Starshine-2, the third in a programmed series of mirror-covered
satellites built with help by students from around the world, will be
launched from the Space Shuttle Endeavor on November 29th. Two other
similar satellites have already been launched and placed in orbit
(Starshine-1 was launched in 1999, and Starshine-3 was opportunistically
launched from Alaska in September this year).

Kids don’t ordinarily help the Navy build its satellites, but this
satellite is different. Starshine-2 was designed by the Naval Research
Laboratory’s Spacecraft Engineering Department as a fixed-point
satellite to help calibrate “The Fence” — the Navy’s space surveillance
network that tracks the thousands of objects that are now orbiting the
Earth. But, in order to be able to observe it’s orbital decay in
real-time (and thereby learn more about the density of the upper
atmosphere), the half-meter diameter sphere needed to be covered with
nearly a thousand mirrors

For the last 2 years, students from as far away as Pakistan, New Zealand,
Brazil and India, as well as from the States, have been hand-polishing
little round mirrors with diamond paste and sandpaper, and sending them
in to the Lab for installation on Starshine-2. The whole idea of getting
students worldwide involved was the brainchild of Gil Moore, a retired
aerospace engineer who had worked with the Naval Research Laboratory in
the 1940s and 50s.

“Once this satellite is launched by astronauts aboard Endeavor, students
will be able to follow it as it passes across the skies by observing the
sunlight flashing off all those mirrors overhead,” says Bill Braun at
the Lab. To find out when and where it will be visible, kids can go to

More information on the Starshine Satellite Project — such as names
and locations of participating students — is located at

For more information on this program, or to interview those involved if
you are working media, please call Gail Cleere, 703-696-4987, or email: .