October 27 – Launch of TopSat (2005)

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 that can be held in such a small area (they do it with mirrors).

Artist’s Impression of TopSat (image credit: Qinetiq)

TopSat was conceived, designed and built in Britain by a consortium of companies. Such a shame they had to launch it from Russia, on a Russian rocket. The launch was one way in which costs were kept down. TopSat was one of a flock of nine satellites launched by the same vehicle.

I have no idea whether TopSat is still in a usable state.  The latest news I could find on the mission dates from 2012, and refers to the satellite being “in hibernation”.

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