Project Starshine


Project Starshine places visible (with the naked eye) satellites into low earth orbit.

Starshine-1 ( 25769/int. dsgn. 99030B) was launched on May 27, 1999 at 02:40 UTC aboard STS-96. It decayed from orbit on February 18, 2000.

Starshine-2 ( 26996/int. dsgn. 01054B) was launched aboard STS-108 and deployed on December 16, 2001 at 15:02 UTC. It had an expected orbital life of eight months, but decayed in half that time, on April 26, 2002.

Starshine-3 ( 26929/int. dsgn. 01043A) was launched on September 30, 2001 at 02:40 UTC aboard a two stage solid fueled Athena-1 rocket on the Kodiak Star Mission. It decayed from orbit on January 21, 2003.

This nearly 1 meter diameter, 90 kilogram hollow darkened aluminum sphere had 1500 reflective mirrors along with other tracking devices. The satellite body itself was not visible to the unaided eye, only the flashing reflections of the mirrors. Its orbit of 470 km, inclined 67 degrees to the equator, allowed all areas on earth to view the satellite at some point, except at the geographic poles. Rotation of the sphere when it was dispensed was intended to produce observable multi-specular reflections of the sun.

Observers used any of the two-line element and off-line satellite prediction program resources available on the internet as well as the on-line prediction service of Heavens-Above to determine when it would be visible in their area.

Observations of Starshine-3

An observer in southern Australia reported on SeeSat-L only seeing one strobe-like flash (est. mag. +1.5) in a relative low illumination pass (less 25%) low in the western horizon (alt. less than 30 deg.) during the local evening of Oct 4, 2001.

The same observer reported in an early morning pass: Starshine 3 flashes observed during a 67 degree max. elevation pass at about 19h 01m 30s UTC October 7. Observed naked eye for large field coverage. 3 flashes seen over a 80 degree arc before proximity to moon made observation pointless

    time           flash
1. 19:01: 32.8    mag 0.5
2. 19:02: 31.0    mag 1.0
3. 19:03  06.6    mag 2.0
Cospar 8597( 34.9638S, 138.6333E, 100m asl)

Again, the same observer observed only one flash in a relatively high altitude local morning pass of 75 degrees on October 8 at 18:31 UTC.

A different observer in southern New Zealand observed a total of three flashes during a local evening pass on October 6 at 08:09 UTC that passed nearly overhead (altitude 85 degrees).

Information Resources

Project Starshine Home Page

Obtain information on the launch facilities

Mark Wade's Athena-1 Rocket description.

Watch the replay of launch on streaming video from Spaceref

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