Perhaps you plan to indulge in your hobby and go bowling this evening, while some Russian guys are going to launch yet another satellite into space. 

We all invest our free time, substantial effort and money in different things. Someone likes football and even attends the games of their favorite team in other regions. I am developing this resource devoted to Russia spending my spare time and my own money. Meanwhile a group of young Russian scientists, including my good friend Anton Aleksandrov, spend their leisure time working on an orbital satellite to launch it in 2016.

This is how it all begins 

It may come as quite a surprise, but the foundation of space science was laid by the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky more than a century ago.

By the way, the word “cosmonaut” means the same as the U.S. synonym “astronaut”.

Considering the fact that the Soviet cosmonauts were the first to fly into space, the word

“astronaut” can be regarded as a secondary term.

The ideas of planned development of humanity in space were first introduced by another Russian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky. He created the doctrine of biospehere and noosphere (the sphere of intelligent life). As a young man I read one of his scientific work and I got giddy with the predicted prospects.

Then the first artificial satellite was launched (the USSR, 1957), the first man Yuri Gagarin travelled into space (the USSR, 1961), the first woman Valentina Tereshkova flew into space alone and set a world record that is still unbroken (the USSR, 1963), Alexey Leonov became the first to step into outer space (the USSR, 1965) and finally Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the Moon (the USA, 1969).

Later there were even more significant dates connected with space exploration. When you were carefully reading the previous paragraph, you saw the name of the country – the USSR – more than once.

Indeed, the Soviet times were marked by a high interest towards space. If you had asked a boy about his desired occupation, he would have said that he wanted to be a cosmonaut or at least a pilot. Everyone knew that pilots could be chosen as cosmonauts. I also had old photos from my kindergarten where I wore pilot’s uniform.

It comes quite naturally that some boys did not abandon their childish dreams about conquering space.

As a quote from “Mayak” project says: “Any person can make contribution into building the future”. 

About “Mayak” project 

What is the purpose of this project? The people behind this initiative have made their ultimate goal crystal clear, which is to show that space is accessible to just any person.

When “Mayak” satellite settles into the Earth’s orbit, it will open its solar reflector in the form of a pyramid made of metalized film that is 20 times thinner than a human hair.

After “Mayak” satellite is launched, people from different cities will be able to admire this brightest “star” in the sky!

Anton Aleksandrov (А.А.). I learned about this project practically by a chance. Once I came across a note on BoomStarter that funds were raising for projecting a space vehicle. I had a few hours till the closing of fund raising, so I made a donation and later became a member of this project. I was attracted to the project since the satellite was being constructed without any help of investors, governmental or private companies. Some enthusiasts captivated by the idea of space exploration were spending their spare time for building their own satellite. Perhaps it is a way to make our childhood dream about conquering space come true. 

However, the purpose of “Mayak” launching does not come to making a bold statement. The key scientific goal is to develop a new technique of bringing space vehicles back to the Earth through air braking.

Simply put, satellites do not fall down till they are orbiting round the Earth at certain speed. It poses a problem. Landing a satellite is possible if this satellite is “slowed down”. “Mayak” project offers an original solution to this problem.

This solution can reduce the amount space junk that poses a real danger.

As a quote from “Mayak” project says: “Contrary to common belief, space is much closer than it seems to be”.

The way of painful errors

А.А. People often think of space satellites as huge monsters that cost millions of dollars and weigh like small lorries. In fact, the so-called microsatellites equal to the size of a shoe box became especially popular in last decade. As electronics and miniaturization are gradually developing, modern CubeSat satellites manage to hold the same content that would have taken a whole room in Sergey Korolev’s (the Soviet rocket engineer and the leader of the first manned flights into space) time. A microsatellite is also cheaper and costs about hundreds of thousands rubles. Furthermore, one rocket can carry several satellites. The global space exploration is going through the third level of evolution, moving from the Space Race of super powers in the 1960s to space business of the 1990s and today’s interest of common people towards space. There is a Soviet movie “Guest from the Future” where pupils’ homework is to launch a satellite into orbit. This artistic fiction becomes reality. 

Successes will not be possible without preliminary research and even scientific dead-locks. For instance, scientists found out that the first frameless satellite would not last in space. As a result, the satellite got a special self-extracting frame.

Moreover, the object module of the satellite (the first version) was sent on a special balloon into stratosphere to test its working systems for recording telemetered information.

А.А. There have been two stratospheric launches and even more ground tests. It took us about a year to make an expandable structure, but we turned it down as it was not hermetically-sealed and not solid enough. The current version of the satellite has 3 extended tapes that look like regular measuring tapes, and they spread the folded reflector.


The stratospheric test of “Mayak” satellite. A balloon is being prepared for launching into stratosphere. The launch takes place at certain time and area that have been agreed upon with air traffic controllers of the Moscow Region (there are 3 international airports around Moscow) 


The stratospheric test of “Mayak” satellite during ascent – the photo taken above clouds 


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