Meet Rifath Sharook, an Indian teenager hailing from Tamil Nadu’s Pallapatti, who has made India proud by creating the smallest and lightest satellite in the world for US’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The 18-year-old is gearing up to break a global space record by launching the satellite named KalamSat that surprisingly weighs just 64 grams.
The world will witness and history will be made on June 21, when a NASA sounding rocket will carry the KalamSat from Wallops Island, a NASA facility, TOI has reported. History is set to be created as an Indian student’s experiment will be carried out by NASA for the first time.
According to Rifath, the satellite will be a sub-orbital flight and the mission span will be 240 minutes post launch. The little 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," Rifath told TOI.
Rifath said he participated in a competition 'Cubes in Space' jointly organised by NASA and an organisation called 'I Doodle Learning' and his satellite was selected.
The main challenge in the competition was to develop an experiment to be sent to space that fits into a four-metre cube weighing exactly 64 grams.
"We did a lot of research on different cube satellites all over the world and found ours was the lightest," he was quoted as saying by TOI.
Rifath said reinforced carbon fibre polymer is mainly used to create the satellite. "We obtained some of the components from abroad and some are indigenous," he said.
As the name of the satellite suggests, ‘KalamSat’ is named after India’s nuclear scientist and former President, APJ Abdul Kalam. Rifath’s project is the first to be manufactured via 3D printing.
Speaking about his experience, Rifath added: “We designed it completely from scratch. It 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. The main challenge was to design an experiment to be flown to space which would fit into a four-metre cube weighing 64 grammes”.
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An organisation called ‘Space Kidz India’ funded the satellite, said Rifath’s.