BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A group of Russian students and engineers launched a crowdfunding campaign for one of the most ambitious space projects. They wanted to build a small satellite to orbit Earth, and to shine bright in the night sky. On July 14th, they managed to launch Mayak, which should be overshadowing Venus in brightness.
Crowdfunding for a tiny satellite
Mayak, meaning “beacon”, is actually a CubeSat probe, and is tinier that you would expect. More precisely, it is as small as a loaf of bread. Its creators, both students and professors from Moscow State Mechanical Engineering University, managed to raise over $30,000 via crowdfunding, and could build the satellite.
On July 14th, Mayak was launched into space. For this, engineers used a Soyuz 2.1v rocket, and the entire process took place in Kazakhstan, on the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Apart from Mayak, the rocket also contained 72 more satellites, which were then released on three different orbits.
How bright will Mayak be?
Right now, Mayak is flying around Earth at an altitude of 600 kilometers, and is seeking to reach a specific position on the orbit. Afterwards, the satellite will unleash 170 square feet worth of tiny solar reflectors, which will direct the sunlight towards Earth. This should make the object incredibly bright.
In fact, researchers say it should achieve a -10 magnitude in brightness. This is way over Venus and other light-reflecting cosmic bodies around. In other words, the satellite should be the second brightest object we will see in the sky, right after the moon. However, other scientists don’t think the satellite can be so bright, and estimate it should have a magnitude of -3.6.
To make sure everything is alright, scientists also create an app which tracks the movement of Mayak. However, only those who backed the project financially can access it. The purpose of this satellite would be to deal with space junk, and find a way to bring it back into the atmosphere and be destroyed.
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