Russian satellite is set to unfurl into the third brightest object in the sky behind the sun and the moon

A Russian satellite developed by Moscow Polytechnic University is set to become the third brightest object in our sky, behind the sun and the moon.

As reported by The Register, the satellite named Mayak – which appropriately is the Russian word for beacon – is one of 72 “smallsats” that were launched into space atop a Russian Soyuz rocket last Friday.

“On July 14, from the Baikonur Spaceport, we launched Mayak – the first crowdfunding spacecraft in the history of Russia, created by young scientists,” reads Mayak’s website. “At night, in clear weather, one can see it as the brightest shooting star.”

Featured image courtesy of head of the MTI aerospace laboratory Denis Efremov. Image courtesy of Mayak

Mayak is currently circling the planet at about 600 kilometres (372 miles) high. Eventually the satellite will unfold into a three meters high regular pyramid sun reflector.

Mayak’s goal is to inspire people to look up to space, as well as testing technology to de-orbit satellites.

Its creators hope that the data it records will assist with the design of larger devices that can be attached onto larger pieces of space junk and used to bring them down from orbit so that they can burn up in the atmosphere. Such junk is a growing issue and has caused its own problems for the International Space Station.

Mayak is the result of a crowdfunding effort by the Moscow Polytechnic University, which raised over $34,000 to get the satellite aloft.

An Android app has been built that allows them to track the progress of the satellite in the months that it is expected to stay aloft.

After Mayak’s month is up it will be deorbited and burnt in the atmosphere.

UK government investing over £100 million in the space industry to ensure the UK remains a world leader in space tech

The UK government has revealed how investing in the space industry will form a key part of its strategy for boosting economic growth.

At the heart of the government’s strategy is a pledge to invest £99 million to create a National Satellite Testing Facility (NSTF) and another £4 million investment for a new National Space Propulsion Facility (NSPF).

The UK government hopeS the significant funding boost will enable the space industry to competitively bid for more national and international contracts and ensure it remains a world-leader for space technologies for decades to come.

“From Cornwall to the Highlands and islands of Scotland, the UK space sector underpins industries worth more than £250 billion to the UK economy, and through our Industrial Strategy we will unlock the sector’s potential to grow further,” said Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson.

“Located in a cluster known for research excellence, these new facilities will help UK companies be more competitive in the global market for space technology and support our ambition to capture 10% of the global space market by 2030.”

Due to open in early 2020, the new NSTF is described as a “world-class facility” for the assembly, integration and testing of space instruments and satellites.

By investing in the NSTF, the UK government believes it will be able to capitalise on the estimated 3,500 to 10,000 satellites that are due to be launched by 2025.

The UK government’s investment will also facilitate the build of bigger and more technologically advanced satellites and remove the need for UK companies to use test facilities located abroad.

“This investment will enhance the capability of the UK space industry,” said Dr Graham Turnock, chief executive of the UK Space Agency.

“Having access to a National Satellite Testing Facility will help companies develop and encourage new business to come the UK, while the development of new facilities at Westcott builds on what is already a world-class UK space propulsion sector.”

SABRE engine courtesy of Reaction Engines

The £4 million investment in the NSPF will allow companies and academia to test and develop space propulsion engines, alongside a new facility for Reaction Engines where the revolutionary SABRE air-breathing rocket engine will also be tested and built.

SABRE – Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine – is a new class of engine for propelling both high speed aircraft and spacecraft.

Unlike jet engines, which are only capable of powering a vehicle up to Mach 3, three times the speed of sound, SABRE engines are capable of Mach 5.4 in air-breathing mode, and Mach 25 in rocket mode for space flight.

On its website, Sabre’s creators, Reaction Engines, says it aims to test a fully integrated engine core at the NSPF test site in 2020, which is the crucial step towards a SABRE powered flight test vehicle.