Deborah Byrd's article Have you seen the Mayak satellite? explains Mayak with a bit of humor:

A team of young Russians – led by Moscow State Mechanical Engineering University (MAMI) – managed to raise more than $30,000 on Russian crowdfunding website Boomstarter, in order to launch their own small satellite. The satellite is called Mayak, which means beacon in English. It’s a cubesat, roughly the size of a loaf of bread. And it’s up there. Mayak went into space on July 14, 2017, as part of a secondary payload, launched on a Soyuz 2.1v vehicle from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It’ll be orbiting Earth, about 370 miles (600 km) high, for the coming month. It’s supposed to be very, very bright, so bright that it would, supposedly, ruin night skies and threaten astronomy. (emphasis added)

The article continues and it worth the read!

Mayak has been receiving roughly daily TLE updates, so it's definitely up there and being tracked. However, I do not know if the 3U cubesat has deployed it's giant metallized polymer film reflector yet.

Question: Have there been any reported sightings or photos of Mayak yet? Is it known if the reflector has even successfully deployed?

It's supposed to be as bright as -8 or -10 magnitude if the sun catches one of the faces of the 2 meter tetrahedral reflector.

You can learn more on the YouTube videos Mayak. No more space debris! and also A tour through the Mayak project.

More background:

The July 14, 2017 NASA Spaceflight article Soyuz 2-1A launches with Kanopus-V-IK and over 70 satellites says:

Mayak is a three-unit CubeSat which was built by Tvoii Sektor Kosmosa – or “Your Sector of Space” – an independent, crowd-funded team of engineers in conjunction with the Moscow State University of Mechanical Engineering. Mayak – meaning Lighthouse – will deploy a highly reflective tetrahedral structure.

Each side of this structure has an area of four square meters, or 43 square feet. To ground observers, the satellite is expected to have an apparent magnitude of up to -10, making it one of the brightest objects in the night sky. The structure will double as a deorbit mechanism, hastening the decay of the satellite’s orbit.

enter image description here

above: Mayak Reflector – Photo: CosmoMayak, From Spaceflight 101

enter image description here

above: Mayak Artists conception, From NASA Spaceflight

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Mayak will fly in a three-axis stabilized orientation for the first four weeks of the mission for tracking and reflector deployment before being placed into a tumbling motion over all three axes which". But when exactly deployment of the reflector will be, I could not find out. I suppose if after four weeks we still can't spot it, somethings up with it (Source: spaceflight101.com/soyuz-kanopus-v-ik/mayak). "Mayak will stay in orbit for one month, before it begins its descent.". This is another hint that deployment might occur after four weeks, since the reflector doubles as brake. $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Aug 2 '17 at 11:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Source: newatlas.com/mayak-satellite-launched/50525. This isn#t enough for an answer, but might explain the lack of news and visibility of the satellite. Its a rather interesting question and I find it unusual that se few information is given out about this satellite. $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Aug 2 '17 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Polygnome this is really helpful information, thank you! Can you reconsider posting the answers "No" and "No" to "...spotted yet? Reflector deployed?" and explain why. Later if you want to revise it that's fine, or someone else can post a new answer. As a similar example, this answer underwent several revisions as time went on and new observations emerged. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Aug 2 '17 at 12:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm glad this helped you. But its not really an answer, its secondary sources. I have no primary source (e.g. flight plan), and thus this is all unverifiable and guesswork. $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Aug 2 '17 at 12:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Spaceflight 101 has now put out a summary: spaceflight101.com/soyuz-kanopus-v-ik/…. not sure there is more then in the existing answers, though. $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Aug 10 '17 at 17:49

Some breaking news on this, according to this source (not the most reputable, to be sure) the reflectors have failed to deploy. They link to this source which appears to be from the creators of Mayak, saying that technical failures have occurred and they are still trying to diagnose them. I don't speak Russian and Google Translate only makes it partially readable, so hopefully someone who can read the source can elaborate.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure this is going to be the final answer. Looking closely at the images in this answer and the question above it, this may not be such a big surprise. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Aug 15 '17 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks again, now there's a new one! space.stackexchange.com/q/24616/12102 $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 25 '18 at 5:00

No, the reflector hasn't been deployed.

Project head, Alexander Shayenko reported about it (RUS) (ENG) today.

Early report information

On July 17th the team reported about possible success (RUS) (ENG).

They analyzed the TLE of orbits of 73 satellites in cluster.

Based on braking factor(#9 element) and ballistic ratio(#11 element) they found 2017-042F, satellite with extreme values.

Ballistic ratio for Mayak is about $1\space m^2/kg$, and for other satellites is not greater $0,01\space m^2/kg$. That means, it is most of all slowing down.


Space amateurs (including myself) have seen another satellites, not Mayak. For example GLOBALSTAR M042

Another satellite

Team checked their calculations on Indian InflateSail satellite with aerodynamics brake. Its area is about $10\space sq\space m$, that's about 2 times greater than Mayak.

Mayak mistake calculations

mistake calculations

InflateSail calculations

InflateSail calculations

  • $\begingroup$ Very nice answer; thank you very much for your post! I like the plots of the TLEs and their scientific interpretation very much :) The info about Mini-MegaTORTORA (MMT) is pretty amazing! mmt.favor2.info $\endgroup$ – uhoh Aug 7 '17 at 20:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.