Mazaalai (satellite)


Birds-1 first cubesat deploy.jpg
Mazaalai among three other deploying CubeSat in Birds-1 mission, the top-most of the batch.
NamesBird MM
Mission typeTechnology demonstration
Earth observation
OperatorNational University of Mongolia
SATCAT no.42822
Mission duration24 months (planned)
22 months, 3 days (elapsed)
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type1U CubeSat
ManufacturerNational University of Mongolia
Launch mass1 kg
Dimensions10 x 10 x 10 cm
Start of mission
Launch date3 June 2017, 21:07:38 UTC[1]
RocketFalcon 9 FT, CRS-11
Launch siteKennedy, LC-39A
Deployed fromNanoracks CubeSat Deployer
Deployment date7 July 2017, 08:51 UTC
End of mission
Decay date11 May 2019 [2]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit[3]
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude397.8 km
Apogee altitude403.7 km
Period92.57 minutes
Birds-2 →

Mazaalai (Mongolian: Мазаалай; IPA: [madz͡aːɮai]) was a Mongolian nanosatellite CubeSat that was launched into space on 3 June 2017 as part of the SpaceX CRS-11 mission.

Released into space from the Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer on the Kibō module of the International Space Station on 7 July 2017, Mazaalai was the first Mongolian satellite in space.[4] It had imaging capabilities and could transmit songs back to Earth, but its primary mission involved performing experiments including GPS location, air density measurement, and investigation of cosmic radiation. The mission ended when the satellite deorbited 11 May 2019.


Mazaalai was part of the Birds-1 constellation of satellites, built through the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite at Japan's Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT), a program intended to help universities in non-spacefaring countries get satellites into space.[4] The Birds-1 constellation also included satellites from Japan, Ghana, Nigeria, and Bangladesh. Over a two-year period, three university students from each of the five participating countries learned skills to build, develop, launch and operate the satellites. All five satellites were identical to each other.[5] The satellites from Ghana (GhanaSat-1) and Bangladesh (BRAC Onnesha) were the first satellites in space for those countries.[5][6]

MongolSat-1, which was launched in early 2017, is sometimes reported as Mongolia's first satellite, but that satellite was in fact launched by a Bermuda-based company, ABS. It was manufactured by the United States company Boeing and was co-branded as MongolSat-1 after launch.[7]


Mazaalai was named after the endangered Gobi bear, native to Mongolia.[4][5] It was designed and built by three young researchers of the National University of Mongolia, in collaboration with students from Ghana, Japan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria.[8][9][10]

The spacecraft was a CubeSat 1U with a mass of approximately 1 kilogram (2.2 lb).[11] It was equipped with 0.3 megapixel and 5 megapixel cameras, capable of taking images with 100 metres (330 ft) resolution, and had sensors capable of measuring air density and space radiation. The satellite could also transmit songs and data at 437 MHz to Earth that had been uploaded to the satellite.[12]


Dragon capsule, containing Mazaalai, mounted on Falcon 9 rocket.


Mazaalai was sent to the International Space Station on 3 June 2017 as part of the SpaceX CRS-11 mission. The satellite was carried in a Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket, launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, LC-39A. This was the 100th launch from LC-39A and the first time SpaceX reused one of its Dragon capsules.[1] The satellite was released into orbit from the Japanese Kibō module of the ISS on 7 July 2017.[13] The satellite orbited the Earth at an altitude of approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi) and at an inclination of 51.64°, completing an orbit every 92.57 minutes at a velocity of 7.67 kilometres per second (4.77 mi/s).[14][10]


The satellite performed experiments including GPS location, air density measurements, and investigating cosmic radiation. The satellite transmitted the national anthem of Mongolia to Earth.[13] The main purpose of the project for Mongolia was to develop more accurate maps, help mitigate natural disasters, and conduct independent space studies.[4] The project was supported by Mongolian Emergency Organization of Government and National University of Mongolia as part of the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite project of Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT), an international interdisciplinary project for non-space faring countries supported by Japan.[4] The satellite communicated with seven ground stations: one in each of the countries participating in the Birds-1 program, and one each in Thailand and Taiwan.[11]

The satellite deorbited on 11 May 2019.[15]

Future work

A second satellite launch in 2018 was planned by the Mazaalai team members.[5][6] Japan's work with non-spacefaring countries continues with the Philippines, Bhutan, and Malaysia through Birds-2, launched on 29 June 2018 along with SpaceX CRS-15.[11]


  1. ^ a b Clark, Stephen (3 June 2017). "Reused Dragon cargo capsule launched on journey to space station". Spaceflight Now. Archived from the original on 4 June 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  2. ^ "BIRD MM". Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  3. ^ "Bird MM - Orbit". Heavens-Above. 9 August 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Mongolia to send first satellite off to space on June 4". News Ghana. 5 June 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d "Mongolia to send its first satellite to space on June 4". The Indian Express. 3 June 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Mongolia to launch first satellite in 2017". GoGo Mongolia. Montsame. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  7. ^ Russell, Kendall (19 April 2017). "ABS Co-Brands ABS 2A Capacity as MongolSat 1". Via Satellite.
  8. ^ "Mazaalai: Mongolia's first satellite will be off to space along with SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on June 4". News Nation. National News Bureau. 3 June 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Mongolia's first university satellite flies into space from U.S." Xinhua News Agency. 4 June 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  10. ^ a b Babatunde, Mark (11 July 2017). "Ghanaian Engineers Launch Ghanasat-1, Join Space Race". Face2Face Africa. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  11. ^ a b c "Bird B, BTN, G, J, M, MYS, N, PHL (BRAC Onnesha, GhanaSat-1, Toki, Mazaalai, Nigeria EduSat-1)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  12. ^ "First Mongolian Satellite Launched Into Space". Montsame. 5 June 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Mongolia First Satellite Starts Operations in Space". Prensa Latina – Agencia Latinoamericana de Noticias. Archived from the original on 8 July 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  14. ^ "President Akufo-Addo congratulates All Nations University for Ghanasat-1 Satellite". Ghana News Agency. 7 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Report on BIRDS-1 Deorbiting" (PDF). Birds Project Newsletter. 31 July 2019. p. 96. ISSN 2433-8818. Retrieved 19 February 2020.

External links

  • Official Birds website