Crowdfunded Russian Beacon Satellite Is An Orbital Mirror

A crowdfunded Russian orbiting mirror satellite named Beacon (Маяк) is starting to gain traction on the Russian site BoomStarter. (It's referred to as a "краудфандинговая" site, a transliteration that sounds like kraoudfandin-govaya when you say it.)

The Маяк is a solar-synchronized satellite that will use a 16 square meter shaped reflector to beam sunlight back to Earth in the night sky. Brightest star in the sky! At least that's the idea.


(Russian Beacon satellite video)

The team behind Mayak (which translates as "Beacon") has raised 1.72 million rubles ($23,000) on the Russian crowdfunding site Boomstarter (which looks suspiciously like Kickstarter). According to the group's page, the Russian space launch company Roscosmos has "Confirmed the possibility of (Mayak) being added to a launch on a Soyuz-2 rocket in the middle of 2016." The scheduled launch is also carrying the Canopus-B-IR satellite, an earth observation satellite for monitoring forest fires.

Like most crowdfunding efforts, this one comes with a mobile app, which will give users the location of the satellite at any time. And it has stretch goals as well—the next goal is to fund construction of a model of Mayak for Moscow's Museum of Cosmonautics. After that, the team hopes to construct an experimental atmospheric braking system that would help Mayak (and potentially other future satellites) re-enter the atmosphere and be recovered without the use of retro-rockets.

In the novelization of Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith, orbital mirrors play an important part in the battle over Coruscant, the capital city of the Republic.

The skies of Coruscant blaze with war.

The artificial daylight spread by the capital's orbital mirrors is sliced by intersecting flames of ion drives and punctuated by starburst explosions...

Even better, in his 1941 story Completely Automatic, Theodore Sturgeon wrote about orbital mirrors:

That ship was quite something. There may be a few of them left - bulky old KH-type ore carriers. The series has been discontinued now, but it seems to me I saw one or two of them on the inter-asteroid runs a few years ago. Her capacity was something like two hundred thousand tons net and she was loaded to the ceil-plates with granular magnesium and sodium for the Sun mirrors of Titan. I don't have to tell you about the seven two-mile-diameter orbital mirrors that circulate around the satellite, making it habitable. You may not know, though, that the girders are all solid mag, because great rigidity isn't needed out there, and mag is cheap. The mirrors are silvered with sodium, which is bright and easy to handle.
(Read more about orbital mirrors)

Also, I have to say that the Beacon satellite kind of reminds me of the Tet satellite from the 2014 movie Oblivion, which I kind of liked. Which I suppose lends a somewhat sinister air to the Маяк satellite, which is intended as a gift to lovers, according to their video.


(The Tet satellite from Oblivion)

See the Russian crowdfunding site Космический спутник Маяк (Cosmic Sputnik Beacon) and ArsTechnica.

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