Note: The Sepember 25 launch of the Starshine 3 satellite has been delayed
because of a Class-X solar flare. The next launch opportunity will be
Thursday, September 27.

Starshine-3 Satellite

The Starshine-3 satellite was built with the help of hundreds of grade school
students from around the world, Starshine will blast off into a 300-mile-high
orbit aboard an Athena I solid-fuel rocket from the Kodiak Alaska Launch

Starshine-3 was designed and built by NRL’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. The one-meter diameter sphere carries a battery, a
transmitter/receiver, solar cells, two antennas, and is covered with more
than 1,500 mirrors. These mirrors were hand-polished by students around the
world using diamond paste and sandpaper. After a protective coating was
applied to each, the mirrors were sent to the NRL for installation on the
satellite. Starshine-3 will also flight demonstrate a battery that is
integrated onto a solar cell and a new, innovative lightweight satellite
ejection system.

Once this satellite is launched, students will be able to follow it as it
passes overhead by observing the sunlight flashing off all those mirrors.
Precise timing of their observations will be used to measure the orbital
decay of the satellite, and the density of the upper atmosphere can
therefore be deduced.

NRL designed and manufactured the Starshine I satellite structure in 1998
for its mid-1999 launch and worked this past spring on the installation of
student-polished mirrors for the Starshine 2 satellite, which is expected to
launch in early December 2001. More information about all of the Starshine
programs can be found at

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