Rifath Sharook, an 18-year-old student from Tamil Nadu, India, has created the world’s lightest working satellite – weighing a mere 64 grams and fitted into a 3.8 centimeters cube.
Named ‘KalamSat’ in memory of the world-famous nuclear scientist and late President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the satellite is scheduled to launch on June 21 from the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA’s) Wallops Space Center on a sounding rocket.
The main challenge was to design an experiment to be flown to space that will fit into a four-centimeter cube weighing exactly 64 grams, says the Indian teen whose satellite was chosen from 86,000 designs submitted by teams from 57 countries.
He told The Times of India that the satellite, designed completely from scratch, will have “a new kind of on-board computer and eight indigenous built-in sensors to measure acceleration, rotation, and the magnetosphere of the earth.”
“We did a lot of research on different cube satellites all over the world and found ours was the lightest. The satellite is made mainly of reinforced carbon fibre polymer. We obtained some of the components from abroad and some are indigenous.
KalamSat will begin working once it enters the sub-orbital path. It will function for 12 minutes and will record different data before falling into the sea. It will be a sub-orbital flight and post-launch, the mission span will be 240 minutes and the tiny satellite will operate for 12 minutes in a micro-gravity environment of space. The main role of the satellite will be to demonstrate the performance of 3-D printed carbon fibre.”
This will be the first time an Indian student’s experiment will be flown by NASA. The satellite – selected through ‘Cubes in Space’, a contest jointly organized by NASA and an organization called ‘I Doodle Learning’ – is also a first to be manufactured via 3D printing.
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