On July 14th the Mayak satellite was launched from the Baikonur Spaceport. It was created by young scientists and can be seen at night, in clear weather as the brightest shooting star and first ever man-made star.
The project is set out with three main goals. One, to prove that crowd-funding for space projects can work and to demonstrate that the practice of space exploration is not only limited to the government or wealthy parties. Two, for the satellite to accomplish its mission; to use large reflectors to capture rays from the sun to bring back to Earth – thus making it the brightest object in the night’s sky. And three, to build an aerodynamic braking system for satellites to safely bring them back to Earth. The third goal may require additional funding.
Ideally the project will offer the real-flight test of an aerodynamic brake device, which in the future can be used to remove space debris from orbit. It will also serve to get new information about the air density at high altitude and using it as a reference to verify the calculations of the apparent stellar magnitude of space objects.
The unit itself is a cubesat that is roughly the size of a loaf of bread. When in position above the earth (370 miles) it will release a sail designed to reflect the sun.
Below, you can take a look at a 3D model of the cubesat.