Image of John Vasquez of the Naval Research Laboratory John Vasquez of the Naval Research Laboratory prepares Starshine 1 for vibration test. Photo by
Michael A. Savell.

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Starshine 3 Re-entry Bulletin - February 4, 2003

Starshine 3 burned up in the earth's upper atmosphere above northern Canada or southern Greenland at approximately 0515 UTC on January 21, 2003. It had made 7434 revolutions around the earth between the date of its launch from Kodiak, Alaska, on September 29, 2001, and its fiery end on January 21, 2003. No observations were reported of this event.

Out of respect for the brave crew of Space Shuttle Columbia who were lost on February 1, 2003, the Starshine web site will temporarily suspend operations.

Starshine on Station Update - November 4, 2002

A new volunteer "Starshine on Station" team is working on a concept for attaching a lightweight, controllable mirror to an unused handrail on the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) and using the mirror to send brief, daylight-visible Morse Code messages to students around the world in the various languages of the countries that are building the the ISS. In this proposed concept, the schools that observe, decode and translate our messages properly will qualify to enter a weekly Internet-based, multiple-choice contest to correctly identify the various physical elements of the ISS and their functions, as well as the names of the nations that have built them, the names and nationalities of the current ISS crew members and some of the experiments they are performing.

The Internet addresses of NASA web sites that contain the correct answers to the questions will be provided to the qualifying schools. The contest will be sub-divided into elementary school, middle school and high school levels (or their equivalents in various countries). The winning school in each of these three categories each week will be rewarded by having their school's name announced from space over live NASA TV by the crew of the ISS. Also, a high-fidelity scale model kit of the ISS will be shipped to each of the three winning schools each week. Schools that are not successful in winning a weekly contest may re-apply the following week.

This is a proposed concept only at the present time. Our volunteer "Starshine on Station" team has offered to build the mirror, its control system, solar array, battery, radio receiver, and attachment device at no cost to the government and to operate the mirror and conduct the Internet contest without any impact on normal ISS operations. NASA Headquarters is considering whether to accept our offer at this time and investigating when and if it might be possible to send the system up on a Shuttle mission and attach it to the ISS.

Here is an image of Ted Stern of Composite Optics, Inc. of San Diego, CA, holding the Graphite Fiber Reinforced Composite structure of a half-meter-diameter, 2 kilogram mirror that he and his colleagues have offered to provide us for this project for free. He is preparing to replicate the surface of this mirror to a flatness of approximately one wavelength of light at 530 nanometers. This mirror will provide flashes of sunlight of equivalent stellar magnitudes between minus 6 and minus 7, depending on the geometry of the sun-mirror-observer sight lines and the distance from the ISS to the observer. These flashes will be bright enough to be visible to the average observer in broad daylight, under reasonably clear sky conditions.

Image of mirror blank
Image of Celest McGorty Here is an image of Celeste McGorty of Goodrich Corporation Optical and Space Systems with an analog sun sensor assembly and a horizon sensor that her company is considering giving to our "Starshine on Station" project for free. These two systems will be combined to locate the sun as a reference from which our mirror will be controlled to point a half-degree-wide reflected beam of sunlight to each applying school beneath the ISS's orbital track on one of its 16 orbits of the earth each day.
Here is an image of Mark Bailey of Starsys Research Corporation (on the right) and Gil Moore, director of the "Starshine on Station" project (on the left), with one of Starsys' lightweight bi-axis gimbal actuators that Mark has committed to provide to this project for free. Commands to point this actuator to reflect a beam of sunlight to each school will be communicated to a U.S. Naval Academy amateur radio receiver in the "Starshine on Station" instrument package. Bob Bruninga of the Naval Academy will supervise a team of amateurs around the globe to transmit these messages to his receiver. Paul Graziani, president of Analytical Graphics, Inc., has committed his company to calculate the appropriate control angles required to point a beam of sunlight and "dither" the mirror to send Morse Code messages to each selected school, in turn. Additional reports will be published from time to time on this web page, highlighting other members of the "Starshine on Station" team and their contributions to our project. We will also report on NASA's decision about whether to accept our offer as soon as that occurs. Questions and comments about the project should be emailed to Gil Moore at or telephoned to him at 719-488-0721. Image of Mark Bailey and Gil Moore

Composite Optics, Inc.

Project Starshine Updates - Update Archives

Starshine 4 and 5 - Last Updated September 19, 2002

Starshine On Station - Last Updated November 4, 2002

Starshine 3 - Last Updated February 4, 2003

Starshine 2 - Last Updated April 29, 2002

Students from Weber Middle School displaying their mirrors. Students from Weber Middle School displaying their mirrors.
Weber Middle School

Children in the Young Astronauts/Astronomy Club at Weber Middle School in Port Washington New York proudly display a set of mirrors destined for Starshine 4.

"The club members arrived at school at 7:30 AM every day to make sure the project would be completed on time. They worked diligently and followed instructions to the letter" says their science teacher, Cheryl Dodes.

For more reports on student mirror-polishing activities, scroll down to the headings entitled "School and Organization Web Pages Related To Project Starshine" and "Starshine in the News!"

Science Results From Starshine 1

On a scientific note, Dr. Judith Lean of the Naval Research Laboratory presented a paper to the Fall 2001 conference of the American Geophysical Union in San Franciso, CA on how she and her colleagues have used tracking data from our Starshine 1 mission to measure the effects of solar extreme ultraviolet radiation on satellite orbital decay. She also discussed the way in which they will use all the rest of the satellites in the Starshine series to continue to improve their orbital decay prediction codes. Anyone interested in receiving a copy of the slides that accompany her AGU paper should send an email to

Please direct your questions about any facet of the Starshine program to:

Gil Moore, Director, Project Starshine
3855 Sierra Vista Road
Monument, CO 80132
Telephone (719) 488- 0721

Video of Starshine 1 satellite's deployment from STS-96!
(1.2MB RealVideo) - (2.4MB QuickTime)

Starshine Project Information
  • Project Description
  • How to Grind and Polish Starshine 4 Mirrors
           Page by Page Instructions
  • Schools Participating in Starshine 2 Large file.
  • Schools Participating in Starshine 3 Large file.
  • Schools Participating in Starshine 4 Large file.
  • School and Organization Web Pages Related To Project Starshine
  • Non-English Language Translations of This Site
  • Project Starshine In The News!

    Tracking Starshine Satellites

  • We need your help to measure Starshine 3's flash rate
  • A Beginner's Guide On How To Track Starshine
  • An Intermediate Guide on How to Track Starshine
  • Visible Satellite Predictions at Heavens-Above.Com
  • The official U.S. Time - JAVA Version
  • Final Re-entry Assessments Starshine 3
  • Starshine 1's Orbital Decay Chart at Heavens-Above
  • Current SOHO (MDI) Solar Image
  • Amateur Videos and Images of Starshine

    Additional Starshine Project Information

  • Project Partners - Starshine 1
  • Project Partners - Starshine 3
  • Starshine Project Contacts
  • Starshine Project Precedents
  • Measurement of Starshine Mirror Performance

    Other Links and Resources

  • Spaceflight Now - Breaking News
  • Christmas Starshine.
  • Space Weather and solar weather FAQ
  • The Resurgent Sun
  • Universe Today
  • Related Web Sites
  • Click here: Basics of Space Flight
  • Exciting Images of Solar and Auroral Activity
  • Science Fair Project Examples
  • The Aurora: Information and Images
  • Space Environment Center
  • Northern Lights

    Page Updates Archive

  • Project Director Gil Moore holding a full-scale mockup of the STARSHINE 1 and 2 satellites. Sunlight is reflected from a single mirror in the image on the right. Photo by Kerry Kirkland.
    Starshine 3 Structural Shell.
    Photo by Steve Wasserzug.

    This Page Last Updated: February 5, 2003 (01:22UT)