Sputnik 99
Mission typeradio communication
COSPAR ID1999-015C Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.NK9905-01[1]
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeAR broadcast
Payload mass3kg (6.6 lbs.)
Dimensions23 cm sphere
Start of mission
Launch dateApril 2, 1999 (1999-04-02Z)
Launch siteBaikonur Cosmodrome
Deployed fromMir space station
Deployment dateApril 16, 1999 04:37 GMT (1999-04-16UTC04:37Z)
Entered servicedenied
End of mission
Decay dateJuly 29, 1999[2]
Orbital parameters
Period91.51 min
Orbital parameters
Peri altitude336 km (208 mi)
Apo altitude361 km (224 mi)
Inclination51.60 deg.

Sputnik 99 (Russian: Спутник 99, also Radio Sputnik 19 or RS-19) launched on April 2, 1999 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome onboard a Soyuz-U-PVB launch vehicle. The nano-satellite was created in a joint-venture by Rosaviakosmos, Aéro-Club de France, and the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) as a marketing effort financially backed by The Swatch Group. Sputnik 99 was deployed from the Mir space station on April 16, 1999, even though its primary mission package, an amateur radio broadcast system (AR), had been purposely disabled, immediately rendering the satellite a piece of space flotsam.

Program details

Development and delivery

The Sputnik 99 payload exclusively comprised a radio transmitter designed for commercial use in space.[3] Rosaviakosmos partnered with the Aéro-Club de France and AMSAT-R and AMSAT-F in the development of the Sputnik 99 mission.[4] As part of efforts to develop income streams to continue the Mir space station program,[5][6] the Russian Space Agency's flight control center, TsUP, made arrangements with a Swiss watch manufacturer to broadcast a branded advertisement from the satellite, disregarding international convention.[7]

The nano-satellite (it was 1/3 the size of the original Sputnik 1 satellite) was launched on April 2, 1999, aboard Progress-M 41 atop a Soyuz-U-PVB launch vehicle.[6][4] The launch took place from Baikonur launch complex LC1, and coincided with Mir flight programs designated Mir EO-27 and Mir EO-26/-27.[5][4] Classified as a re-supply mission, Progress-41 docked with Mir and transferred the Sputnik 99 satellite to the station on April 4.[5][8]

Commercial mission

The Sputnik 99 AR package, although with its advertisement delivery system deliberately disabled,[9][7][10] was deployed (by hand) on its own orbit by French spationaut Jean-Pierre Haigneré during an April 16 EVA with cosmonaut Viktor Afanasev.[6][8][5]

The satellite mission was for essentially a way to secure funds for the Russian space program, the "Mir" project specifically, by commercializing space. Sputnik 99 was designed to periodically broadcast technical time-synchronization information and trademarked advertising content over amateur radio bands promoting the Swatch Group, the parent company to the popular Swiss watch retailer.[10][3] Worldwide, this was considered as a flagrant misuse of amateur radio frequencies.[7] Due to a huge backlash by amateur radio enthusiasts and amateur radio organizations over the proposed use of the AR frequencies for advertising purposes, the decision was made to disable the broadcast transmitter prior to its deployment from Mir.[9][2][10] This was accomplished by removing the batteries of the broadcast unit from the satellite prior to its release, thus Sputnik 99 immediately upon deployment became just another piece of orbiting space junk.[7][2][11]

Mock-up: Sputnik 99, a "nano-satellite," was just 1/3 the size of the original sputnik satellite depicted here
Mock-up: Sputnik 99, a "nano-satellite," was just 1/3 the size of the original sputnik satellite depicted here


Decommissioned even before its deployment, Sputnik 99 was nevertheless placed on orbit, only to become a piece of orbital debris.[9] Progress-41 undertook several engine burns beginning in late April to boost Mir's orbit, as Russia still worked at securing commercially backed funding to support the space station's continuance. While initially designated for a mission duration of 105.99 days, the Progress capsule was undocked and de-orbited on July 17, 1999.[5] The Sputnik 99 satellite itself re-entered Earth's atmosphere on or about July 29, 1999 and was destroyed.[2]

See also


  1. ^ "Note". See weebau.com. Retrieved 2020-12-04. NOTE: Sputnik 99 (ID 25685) was originally cataloged as being a "new launch" by USSPACECOM and incorrectly assigned the international designer "1999-021A".
  2. ^ a b c d "Sputnik 99-Also called RS 19-Mission Details". Weebau.com. Retrieved 2020-12-03.
  3. ^ a b Sperber, Frank (June 1999). "Swatch-Satellit ohne Sendeaktivität". Funkamateur. p. 708.
  4. ^ a b c McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log - 1999 April 2 - Progress M-41". Encyclopedia Astronautica (Planet 4589) online. pp. Index P. Archived from the original on 2009-07-10. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 1999-016; 1999 Apr. 2, 2203; 1999-016A; Insat 2E; Insat 2E; S25666; Ariane 42P; V117 L486b; CSG; ELA2; S; Wire.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Progress". AstroNautix.com; article via WebCite [Web Citation .org]. Archived from the original on 2009-07-10. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c NASA Directorates. "NASA - Space Flight 1999 - Russia". Space Operations website. Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  7. ^ a b c d TBS. "Satellite Sputnik 99". Satellite Encyclopedia – Fact Sheet. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Haignere, Jean-Pierre". AstroNautix.com. Archived from the original on December 27, 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Krebs, Gunter. "Sputnik 40, 41, 99 (RS 17, 18, 19)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Bihlmayer, Ulrich (June 1999). "Wie aus einem Mini-Sputnik ein Swatch-Shitnik wurde". Funkamateur. p. 634.
  11. ^ "Hams jam space spam". BBC News. 1999-04-16. Retrieved 2020-07-07.