Canada will launch its first microsatellite next year, the $6 million Microvariability and Oscillations of Stars (MOST).

The 50kg (110lb) satellite was built by the Space Flight Laboratory of the Institute of Aerospace Studies, in collaboration with the University of British Columbia and Dynacon Enterprises. It will gather data on the size, age and core composition of stars and whether they have planets. MOST will be able to point at a single star for up to seven weeks continuously.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Da Vinci team, which includes the Toronto Aerospace Museum, has built a 7.3m (24ft) long, 500kg engineering prototype rocket which will be tested in the next quarter. Da Vinci is one of 20 entrants in the $10 million US X-Prize competition, designed to develop a privately financed reusable rocket to carry three passengers on a sub-orbital spaceflight to 100km (62 miles). The craft will be dropped from a hot air balloon from about 3,500m to test its ballute and parfoil landing systems.

The fully operational X-Prize rocket will be fired from the world's largest hot air balloon. Tethered 300m below the 25-storey balloon, it will be carried to 14,000m. A 10,000lb-thrust (44kN) liquid oxygen-kerosene engine will then carry the rocket to 120km at Mach 4. The ballute system will protect the Da Vinci during re-entry and a parafoil will deploy at 9,000m.

Source: Flight International