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 4/5 Update - August 8, 2002

The bad news is that the possibility of getting our Starshine 4/5 satellite/subsatellite combination into orbit anytime soon seems to be getting worse and worse. Not only have these satellites been removed from the STS-114 Shuttle mission in January 2003 to make room for a replacement Control Moment Gyro for the International Space Station, but NASA has now told us they won't be able to fly our satellites on their December 2002 Delta II launch from Vandenberg AFB, either, as they had originally hoped to do. The Human Space Flight folks at NASA Headquarters are still trying to find us a flight opportunity, but, realistically, it may be 2004 or 2005 before that happens.

The good news is that, in the meantime, we're working on a plan to build a controllable mirror for installation on the International Space Station (ISS). The idea would be to send visible Morse Code messages to schools in broad daylight from ISS. We would reflect a bright beam of sunlight to the schools, as the ISS passed overhead, and "dither" the mirror to send dots and dashes that would form words in the various languages of the ISS partner nations. Students would decode the messages and email them to us and thus qualify for an interactive educational experiment over the internet. We'll be posting more information on the concept here within a few weeks. We don't know if NASA will accept our idea, but we're having conversations with engineers at their various field centers to get ready for a presentation to Headquarters about it later this fall. If you have thoughts and suggestions about this idea, please send them to

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Last Updated: August 8, 2002