Znamya 2.5

Space Reflector

Deployment Date: February 4, 1999

Updated February 5, 1999

SRC-Space Regatta Consortium, RSC Energia

The World's First Prototype Solar Power Satellite

Images courtesy of Energia, Ltd  


News: 2/5/99, Mirror fails to deploy, experiment abandoned.


About Znamya (Pronounced: 'Z-nam-YA'}:

Significance of Znamya 2.5: Znamya 2.5 is the world's first controlled global demonstration of space to Earth beamed solar power. If the deployment is successful and the combined Progress/Znamya spacecraft can be controlled accurately, people all over the world will be able to see for themselves the reality of power from space. And the average person could understand that the Sun can be harnessed as an energy source 24 hours a day, instead of just during daylight hours. This demonstration could significantly accelerate the global acceptance and reality of Solar Power Satellites. 

It is not likely that any cities in the U.S. will be illuminated by Znamya 2.5 during the 24-hour experiment. To date, there has been no announcement of which cities elsewhere in the world will be illuminated 

Note: The difference between Znamya 2.5 and the earlier Znamya 2 is that 2.5 will be able to fix the reflected light on a given Earth target for several minutes. The reflected light from Znamya 2 was only visible as a flash of light from the Earth. Znamya 1 was a ground engineering test model, it never flew in space. 

Environmental Concerns:

Over the past year, both the Space Regatta Consortium and Energia LTD. have been receiving complaints from the amateur astronomy and environmental communities. We have responded to their concerns with the following: 

  • Artificial illumination will only be conducted over infrastructure-poor cities and industrial zones in regions of the world that experience long polar nights. 
  • If we are not able to provide economical precision, illumination we will not develop this application. The entire program is still in the R&D stage. 
  • Space power releases very little waste heat and no CO2 into the Earth's environment. 
  • We see a potential for future photovoltaic SPS in developed countries. However, we do not see a future need for space illumination in developed countries, such as the US. 

Summary of Znamya-2.5 Space Reflector Deployment: 

The Znamya-2.5 experiment is an intermediate step within the SolarKraft flight development program. As Znamya-2 was, Znamya 2.5 is supported by the Mir Space Station transportation infrastructure; also the reflector is integrated and deployed from the Progress-M spacecraft. 

The main goals of the experiment are: 

• Verify the principal improvements of the film structure, 

• Test a prolonged and controlled "Novey Svet" (New Light) illumination experiment, 

• Operate the reflector using a new tele-operated attitude control mode, 

• Further test the operational ability of the combined spacecraft and film structure. 


The launch of Znamya 2.5 into space took place on October 27, 1998 aboard Progress M-40. The deployment is planned for February 4, 1999 following the undocking of Progress M-40 from the space station. The undocking of Progress M-40 is planned to take place at 1:00 PM Moscow Time. The nominal duration of the experiment is 24 hours. Both the Mir and Progress M will complete 16 revolutions around the globe and cover all of the world continents except Antarctica. 

Experiment profile:

While Progress M-40 is still in a docked configuration to Mir the space station crew will install the reflector equipment in the docking transfer tunnel, connect and test the deployment system. After undocking, Progress M-40 will perform several maneuvers and fly to a pre-set safe distance from the station. Once it is confirmed that the Progress is in position, the deployment of the Znamya 2.5 reflector will be performed. 

After testing of the tele-operated manual remote control mode, the Mir crew will set the desired attitude of the spacecraft in preparation for the New Light experiment. During next several orbits, the reflector will illuminate the night side of Earth in the hours just after sunset. 

By observing the reflected spot of light on Earth, the Mir crew will control the reflector attitude so as to keep it fixed on a desired region. Upon completing the experiment, the reflector will be jettisoned from Progress M-40 and both the reflector and Progress spacecraft will be de-orbited. 

Reflector Specifications of Znamya 2.5: 

Reflector diameter: 25 meters (83 feet) 

Light spot diameter on Earth: 5-7 kilometers (3-4 miles) 

Estimated brightness on Earth's surface: 5-10 full moons (lunettes) 

Fixed target illumination duration: 1-4 minutes 

Reflector thickness: 7 microns 

Experiment duration: approximately 24 hours 

Summary of the Znamya-2 demonstration flight experiment: 

The Znamya-2 space demonstration experiment was conducted on February 4, 1993. Znamya-2 was the first solar sail deployment in space. The 20-meter (66 feet) thin film structure was successfully deployed from the Progress M-15 spacecraft by the use of centrifugal force. 

The main goals of the Znamya-2 experiment were: 

Verify the concept of the system, test stability and other characteristics of the structure, control the large thin film structure in the space environment, conduct New Light experiment to illuminate the night side of Earth. 

The following equipment and procedures were used to implement the deployment: 

Use of the Mir Space Station, which included the cosmonauts, Mir instrumentation, telemetry systems, and ground control network. A specialized deploying device was installed in the transfer tunnel leading to the docked Progress M spacecraft. Existing and flight proven spacecraft equipment prototypes were used as much as possible, such as the unique abilities of Progress M spacecraft. The systems of the Progress M became available after the completion of its main mission of providing cargo delivery to the space station. 

The deployment device accommodated a thin film reflector that was divided into eight sectors and wound on eight reels. This device incorporated a drive to rotate the film structure and two additional drives for pivoting the deployed structure to test it for stability. The Mir crew G. Manakov, and A. Polischuk installed the device after they removed the docking mechanism and tested the reflector control system. 

The following operations were performed after Progress M undocked: 

• Maneuvering the Progress into a desired position, • deployment of the thin film structure, 

• dynamic stability test of the rotating flexible structure with the reflector, 

• attitude control of the spacecraft, 

• New Light experiment, 

• jettisoning of the film structure after completion of the experiment. 

Znamya-2 demonstration experiment was monitored using telemetry and visual devices (the Mir crew took still pictures and shot video clips). All experimental data confirmed principal decisions used on Znamya-2. The Progress M spacecraft with the large thin film structure deployed proved to be stable and controllable. 

The first illumination from space took place in the early hours before sunrise over Western Europe. A reflected spot of light of about 5 km in diameter traveled at a speed of 8 km/hour from southern France through Switzerland, Germany, Chec. Republic, Poland and disappeared in early sunlight in Byelorussia. Unfortunately, the weather was not favorable in Western Europe that morning due to heavy cloud coverage. Still, many people reported seeing a flash of light, such as a report from a weather station in the German Alps. 

After the film structure was jettisoned from the Progress M, it was seen in clear sky over Canada. Many more people reported seeing Znamya-2 and still pictures were taken. Due to the imperfect shape of the reflector after jettisoning, the estimated brightness was rather low (approximately 1 lunette). 

A future space illumination system would be comprised of several reflector constellations. A single constellation could provide lighting services to several large cities. The most effective illumination from space is in Polar Regions of Earth during the long winter nights. A space illumination system may also be of great value and help as an emergency lighting system in areas effected by large-scale disasters. 

Znamya-3 experiment -A significant step forward:

Znamya-3 experiment is a significant phase of the SRC reflector development program. It requires substantial modification of a Progress M spacecraft. An additional thin film reflector of much larger size (60-70 meters) will be incorporated to the outer spacecraft structure. A new control device will also be introduced which will allow the spacecraft to control a large moment of inertia without using reaction control thrusters. The Znamya 3 reflector may also incorporate an array of thin film photovoltaics into the reflector structure as part of the test. 

The main goal of the Znamya-3 experiment is to test a new reflector concept and design in space, and verify major design characteristics. Experts of SRC are also working to design a panel-less (monolithic) reflector. 

Schedule: The experiment is planned to be ready for flight by 2000-1.

SolarKraft - A building block for space power and propulsion: 

SolarKraft is a spacecraft equipped with a solar sail solar reflector or photovoltaics. The first SolarKraft was conceptually designed for the Columbus-500 project in 1988. The future development of SolarKraft technology will be based on concepts developed from the results of the Znamya experimental reflector program. 

The future SolarKraft will have a thin film reflector of 200 meters and a very Low Mass (about 500 kg). For attitude control a concept of a coupled gyroscope reflectors is used. The "main reflector" and the additional so-called "control reflector" of a smaller size form the gyroscope. The concept of this SolarKraft as a whole would make it possible to perform all maneuvers (rotation and translation) without any fuel consumption. 

This SolarKraft would be a basic component of a future space illumination or power system. Also it could eventually fly to other planets of the solar system. This thin film space technology may also find its way for other applications, for example, as a solar power satellite, passive reflectors, wake shield facilites, space debris protection shields and others. 

Space Regatta Consortium (SRC) - was formed in 1990 by RSC Energia as the leading participant. 

Funding of the Znamya experimental program was accomplished through SRC. To date RSC Energia carries the largest part of expenses. At early phases the program was also sponsored by several other Russian enterprises. 

Contact us with technical questions about solar power satellites and solar sails at: information@space-frontier.org or call: 1-800-78-SPACE.

Links for more information about Znamya:

Links for more information about Solar Power Satellites:

Additional Events: 

Panel discussion on the Znamya Project: discussoin of the deployment test, environmental concerns and benefits. This panel discussion will be part of the 14th Space Studies Institute High Frontier Conference May 6-9 1999 in Princeton NJ. More information on the conference can be obtained at www.ssi.org.

HAM radio: operators will attempt to relay radio and television signals off of Znamya 2.5. For more information contact the ZAREX Working Group at: zarex@nobarc.com

Click here for more information!

Return to Space Frontier Foundation HOME