In a historic and proud moment for India, US space agency NASA on Thursday launched the world’s lightest and smallest satellite which was designed and developed by an 18-year-old student from Tamil Nadu. With this launch, India broke a global space record.
Surprisingly, the satellite was not built by any professional scientist or engineer, but by a student named Rifath Sharook and his team.
As the name suggests, KalamSat has been named after late Abdul Kalam. NASA’s sounding rocket carried the KalamSat and it was launched from NASA’s Wallop Island facility around 3pm (IST) on Thursday. In his 60s, Kalam took a training in the sounding rocket programme at Wallops Island.
In the US mission, KalamSat was the only Indian payload. Mission director Srimathy Kesan told TOI that the total flight time was 240 minutes. The satellite was assembled at her residence in T Nagar, Chennai. The satellite separated from the rocket 125 minutes after it was launched from the ground.
"Kalamsat fell into the sea. It will be recovered and Nasa will be sending it back to us for decoding the data,'' she told TOI while pointing out in an emotion-choked voice that the flight was "out of the world and it was a divine intervention."
"I am calling it divine intervention because the previous Nasa mission from Wallops got postponed because of weather and we were able to launch successfully today," Kesan said.
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This tiny satellite can be held in palm and is a 3.8 cm cube. Its structure is fully 3-D printed with reinforced carbon fiber polymer. The satellite has a nano Geiger Muller counter which will measure radiation in space.
"It is the only cube to be converted into a satellite in this mission," she added.