October 27 – Kosmos 186 / TopSat

Kosmos 186 was launched today in 1967.  It was followed three days later by Kosmos 188, and together they performed the first ever fully automated docking by two spacecraft.


For the younger readers among you, DDR stands for Deutsche Demokratische Republik (the old East Germany).

And now it’s time for another of those rare events, a British satellite launch. This one was in 2005.

TopSat (Tactical Operational Satellite) is a small satellite, only about 80cm across, designed to show that size isn’t necessarily important when it comes to satellites.  It carries an ingeneously designed camera capable of much higher resolution images than would normally be possible from anything capable of being held in such a small area (they do it with mirrors).

TopSat was conceived, designed and built in Britain. Such a shame they had to launch it from Russia, on a Russian rocket. The British spaceflight industry may be rightly proud of their ability to do more with less, but it’s not much use if EasyJet are able to get higher off the ground without foreign help.