Published: 22nd February 2021
This Chennai start-up is sending a student-built satellite to space in ISRO's upcoming mission. Check it out!
A ten-member students team from Space Kidz India worked on a 3U CubeSat for over six months and it is now ready for space
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is about to launch its first space mission in 2021. While the major payload of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-51 — which is scheduled to launch from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh on February 28 — is the Brazilian satellite Amazonia-1, satellites made by Indian students and start-ups will also be a part of the space mission. Among them is Chennai-based space start-up, Space Kidz India, who have made a 3U CubeSat named Satish Dhawan SAT, which will be launched on the PSLV C-51 spacecraft.
The satellite has three payloads, each with a distinct function. Mission Director and Founder of Space Kidz India, Dr Srimathy Kesan explains, "The first payload is a radiation counter that will map the intensity of radiation in the lower Earth orbit and also determine its impact. The second payload is a magnetometer, which will study the Earth's magnetosphere. The third payload is LoRa, a long-range transponder used for communications. LoRa is a demonstration at this point and will be useful in the future, especially during natural disasters."
Satish Dhawan SAT | Pic: Space Kidz
Not only is the satellite made by students, but every part of it is manufactured and designed indigenously, in Chennai. Kesan says they are trying to reduce the cost of building satellites and also taking the Make in India or Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative forward. "Hopefully, if this works perfectly then it will considerably reduce the cost of space missions," she says.
To increase awareness about India's space missions and ISRO, and to also add a fun element, says Kesan, they have added the names of almost 25,000 people in the satellite. "We conducted a campaign for a week where we asked the general public to send in their names. We received around 750 names from across the world while the rest are that of Indians. This is the first time an Indian space mission will carry names of the general public to space. An SD card with all the names have been added to the satellite," says Kesan. "We are so glad that we could get that many people enthused about space," she adds. Space Kidz has given these people a boarding pass and they hope that they will await the launch and watch it live on television.
Pic: Space Kidz
The satellite, which has a length and breadth of 103mm and height of 340.5mm, has a mass of 1.9 kgs. It has been built by a 10-member team consisting of students between the age of 18 and 22. "The lead scientist Rifath Shaarook is pursuing his MSc from New College, Chennai. Yagna Sai, the Chief Operating Officer, a recent BTech graduate from Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science," says Kesan. The rest of the team also consists of various students from different engineering and science colleges across Chennai and other parts of the state. The team began working on the satellite from August 2020 and only completed in February 2021. "The satellite has now cleared all the tests and the structure and subsystems are all functioning," says Kesan.