Starshine 3 / OSCAR 43
Mission typeCommunications
COSPAR ID[1] 2001-043A[1] COSPAR ID does not match expected format
SATCAT no.26929
Mission duration1 year and 3 months
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerNaval Research Laboratory
Launch mass91 kg (201 lb)
Dimensions0.9 metres (2 ft 11 in)
Start of mission
Launch date30 September 2001, 02:40 UTC
RocketAthena 1 LM-001
Launch siteKodiak LP-1
End of mission
Decay date21 January 2003
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Altitude472 km (293 mi)
Period94 minutes
Epoch30 September 2001
Frequency145.825 MHz[2]
← OSCAR 42

Starshine 3 (also called SO-43 and OSCAR 43) is one of five satellites in the Starshine project (Student Tracked Atmospheric Research Satellite for Heuristic International Equipment).

Starshine 3's main task was to study the density of the Earth's upper atmosphere. In addition, the 94 centimetres (37 in) and 91 kilograms (201 lb) heavy spherical satellite body was covered with 1,500 mirrors, which were manufactured by machine technology students in Utah and polished by almost 40,000 students in 1,000 different schools. In addition, 31 laser reflectors and a radio beacon in the amateur radio frequency range (145.825 MHz) were attached. The transmitter was powered by solar cells and batteries. Starshine 3 had neither drive nor position control.


The satellite, together with the PICOSat, PCSat and SAPPHIRE satellites, was launched on September 30, 2001 with an Athena I rocket from Kodiak Launch Complex, Alaska, USA.

Because of the mirrors, the satellite was visible to the naked eye from Earth at night. Students measured the difference in the daily shortening orbital period and derived the density of the atmosphere. They also measured fluctuations in the intensity of UV radiation from the sun, which they associated with different densities in the atmosphere.

Starshine 3 burned up on January 21, 2003 after 7,434 orbits in the earth's atmosphere about two years earlier than originally expected.[3]

See also


  1. ^ NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. "Starshine 3". Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  2. ^ "STARSHINE 3". Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  3. ^ Azinet (4 Feb 2003). "Project Starshine - Student Tracked Atmospheric Research Satellite". Retrieved 15 Feb 2020.