Mission typeTechnology
OperatorKagawa University
COSPAR ID2014-009H
SATCAT no.39579
Mission duration2 months
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerKagawa University
Launch mass9 kilograms (20 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date27 February 2014, 18:37 (2014-02-27UTC18:37Z) UTC[1]
RocketH-IIA 202
Launch siteTanegashima Yoshinobu 1
End of mission
Decay date26 April 2014 (2014-04-27)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Semi-major axis6,745.00 kilometres (4,191.15 mi)
Perigee altitude367 kilometres (228 mi)
Apogee altitude381 kilometres (237 mi)
Inclination65 degrees
Period92.02 minutes
Epoch28 February 2014[2]

Space Tethered Autonomous Robotic Satellite II or STARS-II, was a nanosatellite built by Japan's Kagawa University to test an electrodynamic tether in low Earth orbit, a follow-on to the STARS mission.

STARS-II was launched by an H-IIA rocket, flying in the 202 configuration, as a secondary payload aboard the launch of the GPM Core Observatory on 27 February 2014. After two months in orbit, STARS-II reentered the atmosphere on 26 April 2014.

Flight Plan

The satellite split into two parts, connected by a 300-metre (980 ft) tether, to conduct its experiments which consisted of recording a video of tether deployment and using the tether to deorbit the satellite. The spacecraft consisted of a 5-kilogram (11 lb) base vehicle, with dimensions of 160 by 160 by 253 millimetres (6.3 in × 6.3 in × 10.0 in) and a 4-kilogram (8.8 lb) vehicle at the end of the tether measuring 160 by 160 by 158 millimetres (6.3 in × 6.3 in × 6.2 in).[3] The electrodynamic tether was made from ultra-thin wires of stainless steel and aluminium.[4]

One objective of this program was to demonstrate possible technology for de-orbiting space debris.[5]


STARS-II was successfully launched at 3:37am (JST) on February 28, 2014 (February 27 UTC), and amateur radio downlink showed that it successfully separated from the carrier vehicle, however, the experiment was only partially successful, and tether deployment could not be confirmed.

Initial radio data suggested that the solar arrays and antennas were not deployed. The beacon from the daughter spacecraft became weak, and after several weeks was no longer received. It was inferred that solar battery power was low due to its small body. However, the beacon from the mother spacecraft later became strong, and it was inferred that the solar arrays and antennas were deployed by restarting. However, the Command and Data Handling subsystem did not work, possibly due to radiation.[6]

The orbit decayed from 350 km to 280 km in 50 days, considerably faster than the other cubesats launched on the same mission, which is indirect indication that the tether deployed, increasing the drag. However, telescopic photography of the satellite from the ground showed the satellite as a single point, rather than two objects. The experimenters suggest that this may have been due to the tether extending, but being tangled by rebound.[6]

Follow On

A follow-on to the STARS and STARS-II satellites, STARS-C (Space Tethered Autonomous Robotic Satellite-Cube) has been announced as a satellite to be launched from the Japanese Experiment Module of the International Space Station.[7][8]

See also


  1. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 1 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "Satellite Catalog". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 1 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Herbert J. Kramer , STARS-II, eoPortal (accessed 7 July 2016)
  4. ^ Justin McCurry, Scientists in Japan to put Stars-2 satellite into orbit to trial space cleanup, The Guardian, 27 February 2014 (accessed 7 July 2016)
  5. ^ Messier, Doug (20 January 2014). "JAXA Develops Electrodynamic Tether to De-orbit Space Debris". Parabolic Arc. Retrieved 21 January 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b M. Nohmi, "Initial Orbital Performance Result of Nano-Satellite STARS-II", International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (I-SAIRAS), Montreal, Canada, June 17–19, 2014(accessed 7 July 2016)
  7. ^ University orbiter set to lift space elevator technology THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, July 6, 2016 (accessed 7 July 2016)
  8. ^ Alyssa Navarro, Japan's Space Elevator Technology Will Be Put To Test Soon, 7 July 2016, Tech Times (accessed 7 July 2016)

External links

  • Project page
  • Stars-2 page
  • NASA Stars-2 page