Russian scientists are hoping to launch the first “artificial star” satellite that will help combat the space debris problem. The satellite, called Mayak, will have a reflective covering that is always pointed towards the sun, which will make it the brightest object in the night’s sky if it is launched this year as expected. However, before the Mayak can make it to orbit, the creators are hoping to raise the remaining funds needed to complete the project in a highly unusual way. The group is hoping to raise $45,000 via Kickstarter and are offering those who donate a plethora of Mayak branded gifts and satellite app access for all contributions.
Alex Senchushkin with Mayak created the Kickstarter campaign to fund the remaining $45,000 needed to launch the satellite into orbit via the Soyuz 2 rocket with help from Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. The Mayak is slated to launch this summer, with a backup date of December 2016. However, before the “artificial star” can be placed into orbit, the group needs to raise the complete funds for a successful testing and launch.
Prior to opening their Kickstarter campaign, the researchers successfully raised $33,000 via Russian crowdsourcing websites. With time running out for a 2016 launch, the team Mayak is hoping that the $45,000 can be secured through Kickstarter. So what exactly does Mayak hope to accomplish aside from being the brightest object in the night’s sky?
According to the Mayak website, the satellite has a mission to help clean up space junk and serve as a reminder of the communal efforts to keep our solar system clean from our debris while proving that space is closer and more affordable than previously imagined.
“Everyone who will find our star in the night sky, will see not just reflection from the satellite. It will be reflection of a dream of millions of people who united to reach a common goal. Together, we can light up a new star, the brightest one in the sky! [sic]”
The satellite is designed to “de-orbit” space debris without the need of a traditional thruster. The satellite will use a “parachute like” structure to lower debris orbit so that the Earth’s atmosphere could burn up the objects.
The researchers also hope to prove through a successful Mayak launch that space exploration is not limited to large corporations and governments. Instead, if Mayak is successful via crowdfunding, the company will be able to fund and launch the satellite as a collective of space enthusiasts instead of a large corporate project. The group claims that Mayak’s launch will prove that space is closer and more affordable to the average citizen than previously thought.
“To demonstrate that space becomes closer, and now it’s possible for a group of friends and like-minded people to launch a real satellite to low Earth orbit [sic]”
The Mayak Kickstarter has only been up since March 22 but has only raised $1,594 towards their $45,000 goal as of the time of this writing. With just 35 days to go, the crowdfunded “artificial star” satellite and space junk removal system is likely going to cut it close. According to the Mayak time-frame, it appears the creators have a second launch date selected in case additional funding efforts are needed.
What do you think about the Mayak crowdfunding satellite project? Could the Mayak solve the space junk problems?
[Image via CosmoMayak]