The state of the satellite "Mayak"

Hello everyone, this is Alexander Shaenko! The latest news from the developers of the Mayak satellite.

In short, now we believe that “Mayak”, most likely, did not open up and what numerous amateur astronomers and a few professionals observe are other Kubsatas equipped with solar panels glaring on the Sun.

You can blame me for this, as well as for all other sins, including incorrect calculations, a sloppy application, bad PR and everything that you think is relevant to the project. I initiated this project and still lead them.

In addition, after analyzing the available technical information, considerations are given regarding communication with the Geektimes community, as a whole, useful for the project, as well as the financial part of our work.

So, let's begin.

Visual observations

From the first evening after the launch to the present, the project team receives a lot of evidence about the observations of “Mayak”. Starting from such - “I saw a bright flash tonight, was it a“ Beacon ”?” To very useful observations in the computational region of the sky with serious tools like the Mini-MegaTORTORA (MMT) and The Fly's Eye camera camera system .

The first instrument, MMT, does not see an object similar in flash parameters to the “Beacon”, and the second one has sent a beautiful track, on which so far only the old GLOBALSTAR M042 is visible.


Snapshot data

Coordinates of the location

  • latitude: 47.91840
  • longitude: 19.89317
  • elevation: 986.26

Beginning and end of exposure:

  • TIME-BEG = '2017-08-02T23: 00: 50.445' / UTC
  • TIME-END = '2017-08-02T23: 03: 20.548' / UTC

The coordinates of the centers of flares on the epoch J2000 and their relative magnitude:

  • 279.0142 46.3660 8.4
  • 281.8821 48.3114 7.6
  • 285.0443 50.2275 5.5
  • 288.5286 52.0894 6.8

This is what amateur astronomers have laid out:

Peter Pskov Outbreak on the border of the constellations Pegasus and Lizard. By time and trajectory, it seems to coincide: 00.58. The flash duration was about 1-1.5 seconds, the maximum brilliance was about -0.5. FPS4, 24mm / 1.4 lens with ISO 6400.

Alexander Aaalex Flash +3.5 stars led in the Little Dipper (center of the frame 0: 10-0: 15 sec). Taken on July 18 at 00:57 Moscow time in the city of Noginsk, Moscow region. Sony a7S + 50 mm F / 1.1, ISO 16000.

Thus, observers see something that is not the brightest star, and is not suitable for independent calculations .

It is possible, of course, to continue to take time and say that for the time being just not lucky, and “Mayak” is about to break out as we had planned, but this will not be fair.

Therefore, we decided to go to the second source of data about our satellite - the Command of Aerospace Defense of North America :)

NORAD data

In a group of 24 spacecraft launched into one orbit with Mayak, object 42830 or 2017-042F is distinguished by the average rate of change of the orbital period. Earlier, it was argued that the object 42830 is a “Beacon”, since its parameter B * and the rate of change of the mean motion differ significantly from other launch objects.

The accumulated statistics on launch objects on July 14, 2017, in particular, the dependence of the measurement rate of the change in the mean motion (number of turns per day) on time, allows you to continue selecting object 42830 as decreasing most quickly.


When averaging over the entire time of observations, which removes obvious measurement errors, the object 42830 is still highlighted.


The question naturally arises about the correctness of the computational model.
Using the same algorithm, we will analyze the flight of the InflateSail spacecraft , which is a 3U cubsat , equipped with an aerodynamic braking device with an area of ​​10 sq. M. m


The spacecraft was launched into orbit on June 23, 2017 by the Indian PH PSLV-XL. The AC was assigned the number 42770 in the NORAD catalog. The range of catalog numbers for the spacecraft from this launch is 42765 - 42795. Two objects, 42796 and 42797, represent the last stage of the PH and debris, and were excluded from the analysis.

The results of the algorithm are as follows.

Graph of the rate of change of the average movement (number of turns per day) versus time.


When averaging observations object 42770 stands out in a very obvious way.


An analysis of these results suggests that the algorithm for determining rapidly decaying spacecraft is correct.

Consequently, in the launch of July 14, 2017, at a height of 600 km, there are no rapidly declining spacecraft. This suggests that the Mayak solar reflector opened in a non-standard way, or did not open at all.

Let us compare the dependence of the average motion (number of turns per day) on time for two Mayak flight scenarios, with an open reflector and with an undisclosed one. In the first case, its orbital existence time is 28 days, in the second case, the orbital existence time is more than one and a half years. For comparison, the data NORAD for object 42830.


Data analysis suggests that the most likely scenario is the non-disclosure of the solar reflector. In this case, a partial disclosure of the reflector is unlikely.

In the future, our team plans to analyze the possible causes of the emergency operation of the Mayak satellite, as well as to investigate the condition of the satellites launched simultaneously with the Mayak.

Chatting with the Hicktimes community

Before starting the presentation of thoughts on this topic, let me say that “Mayak” is the first Russian satellite, in which at the design stage and flight tests, the Giktimes community took part and is taking part.
This is true, because it was after the discussion under the article and the subsequent correspondence by mail that we first made the second nozzle in the satellite spin-up reactor, and then, in the course of further discussion, removed the spin from the flight pattern. And this happened thanks to the discussions here.

I do not know how important this is to the authors of the advice, but personally it seems to me simply amazing! In my opinion, for the first time in the history of Russian cosmonautics, anyone could take part in the discussion of the real project of a spacecraft, which was then launched into space! And not just to take part, but to bring in thoughts that were later put into practice.

Therefore, I am deeply grateful to those commentators who criticized the project. It is very difficult, of course, to read critical reviews of the case to which you devoted three and a half years of your own life, but nevertheless it was necessary!

Thanks guys! It was hard, but helpful.

Magnitude value

I recall that initially we planned to make the brightest object in the sky after the moon, with brightness down to -10 m. Such a plan was based on two assumptions:
We can make a nice, smooth solar reflector.
Our reflector will be closer to the Earth and larger than the current brightest object - the Iridium satellites.

The first statement was based on this layout.


It is evident that its plane, although not ideal, reflects, and in many respects is mirrored. It was planned that the frame of the pyramid will be elastic and will stretch the film.

The second is on the following numbers. The area of ​​one facet of the reflector: we assumed it was 3.9 square meters. meters, the spacecraft “Iridium” - 1.6 square meters. meters. The height of our orbit is 600 km, with Iridium 780 km. Everything would seem obvious.

Based on these calculations, we planned the announcements and began to raise funds.

In the process of work, after long experiments, it turned out that the pneumatic frame could not be made. On the one hand, it was not possible to make the reaction of decomposition of the reagent, inflating the ribs, irreversible, by reasonable methods. The reagent after inflating the ribs precipitated in the form of a powder already inside the ribs. On the other hand, it was also not possible to ensure the tightness of the system without increasing the film thickness, and the increased film thickness did not fit into the specified dimensions of CubeSat 3U.
As a result, we switched to a “sliding” frame of elastic profiles. At the beginning of work with him, it was not clear to us how much he could stretch the film and how smooth it would be.

Nevertheless, we launched the second fundraising campaign under the slogan “The Brightest Star”, based on previous assumptions. The tests were conducted in parallel with the fundraising and just then, in mid-February 2016, the attention of the Geektimes community turned out to be drawn to our project, I repeat, enriching it. In the process of discussion, there appeared quite reasonable doubts that the star will be the brightest, but a convincing publication with an independent model of the calculated stellar magnitude was published only in August 2016.

Of course, it would be possible to stop the fundraising, stop the technical work, abandon the launch, to which we have been walking for two years and which, by the way, was then planned for the summer of 2016 and announce that the project was stopped due to commentators from Geektimes doubt that the satellite "Lighthouse" will be the brightest star in the night sky. To declare this way, to get your dose of criticism from other commentators, maybe not with Geektimes, to double-check everything, redo it, and in a year at best look for money, it’s unclear how and where, and a new launch opportunity.

Despite our doubts, we decided to bring the project to launch, considering that the satellite created by the hands of enthusiasts and launched into space, for which there are complaints, is better than the correct satellite remaining on Earth that causes only positive emotions. By the way, after the release of the article with an independent calculation, I personally said that, most likely, the object will not be the brightest, but still well visible to the naked eye.

The only places where the wording “the brightest star” remains is the website and social networks that belong to the PR people. About our relationship with them just below, in the section about money.

Now, “Mayak” in orbit, most likely, is not visible to either professionals or amateurs, and it is our business to find out what the reason is, since the main task of the project is to draw attention to space exploration. I, as the creator of the project, and the entire engineering team, as I think, were pleasant and helpful if the experience of Mayak were critically evaluated, analyzed, and the following projects of private or personal astronautics went further than we were able to pass.

About money and PR

At the beginning of my acquaintance with Alexander Panov, the head of advertising agency, which now runs the website and the social networks of the project, it was agreed that they work for free, like all of us, but all the proceeds beyond what was needed for the equipment , take away themselves. Taking into account this agreement, we began to work with them, and with all the money - obtained from Bumstarter, via SMS and transfers - they owned and controlled them. And now own and dispose of.
Engineers only brought invoices for payment and spoke with whom and for what to enter into contracts.

Let's analyze the financial part of the project.

What are the stages of the development of the spacecraft? These are design, production, assembly, testing, launch and orbital operation.

Since the engineers worked on the naked enthusiasm, the design was carried out for free. We had a period of quite interesting relationships with the private space company Yalini , which has now ceased to exist, and their engineers participated in the design of Beacon, getting paid, but their employer, who got involved in the work of PR people, paid them.

The production of a spacecraft consists of the production of its systems. In our case: the housing, the deployment system of the solar reflector, the reflector itself, the power supply system, the on-board computer, the reactor and the onboard cable network. New parts, the production of which had to be ordered, were included in all these systems.

Machining with coating was ordered from two suppliers LLC Rallivorks and LLC Intechpro . I recommend the first, the second - no. The first contract was in the amount of 156,694 rubles, the second - 194,070 rubles.

The production of electronics for an onboard computer was ordered in the well-known “Rezonite” and cost about 35,000 rubles.

Purchased products, fasteners, wires, those notorious roulettes, a case for transportation cost about 75,000 rubles.

The film for the solar reflector was provided to us by the manufacturer NIIKAM for free, thank you very much for that!

The power supply system based on the elements of Panasonic NCR18650B, telemetry stands for TTI Anton Alexandrov did at his own expense, for which he took about 200,000 rubles. At his own expense - because he began to do it in a period of financial uncertainty between the campaigns on Bumstarter, when the battery was already needed, and there was no money at all.

For all the little things all the team members took another 50,000 rubles.

Total for the production and assembly took about 710,764 rubles.

We carried out tests at the friendly stands of the Center for Science and Technology , the Scientific Research Institute of Nuclear Physics of Moscow State University , which we were provided for free. Moreover, CPTA agreed for us with one very cool vacuum chamber, into which we were also allowed for free! It was necessary, however, to purchase spare parts and fence stands, tooling, adapters to the pressure connectors, etc. What we really paid at this stage was for the full test cycle at NIIEM . There was a shaker, a shock stand and a centrifuge. Successful conduct of these tests allowed us to board the launch vehicle and fly into space. The contract for these tests was 196,234 rubles.

The PR managers who manage the project money paid for the road for three engineers to Baikonur and to stay there when we were flying for integration, installing a satellite on a rocket. It cost about 140,000 rubles. At the launch, most of the team went at their own expense and the only one who went at the expense of the project was our sophomore student Sergey, who, of course, had no money. He went there in the reserved seat, back with us by car, lived with everyone in the hostel. It cost about 30,000 rubles.

Thus, for the entire technical part of the project, taking into account production, testing and travel, about 936,998 rubles were spent from the project budget, of which 250,000 were invested by project engineers at different stages.

Why am I focusing on this? Because “Mayak” is a really cheap satellite available to many.


This article has ended, but the history of the Mayak satellite has not ended. It is necessary to find out exactly what is wrong with it, and if, nevertheless, the solar reflector has not opened, then for what reason. Perhaps this will require additional ground tests on the design of its design.

And finally, a comprehensive report on the results of the project has not yet been written, transmitting our experience to everyone who wants to build small spacecraft in Russia.

We, the Mayak project team, will be very happy if the results of our work help those who follow us!


All Articles