Khaleej Times

Kalamsat returns after brief brush with space

- C P Surendran

new delhi — Of late, India has been sending satellite launch vehicles up into outer space the way kids launch paper boats in monsoon puddles.

But on Thursday, not many knew it had created a record of sorts by launching the world’s tiniest satellite. It weighed 64 grams. It is called Kalamsat, after the late Indian president and rocket scientist Abdul Kalam. And the man behind the satellite is a boy: Rifath Sharook, an 18-year-old student, and his team from Pallapatti in Karur district in Tamil Nadu.

The satellite was tagged on to a Nasa rocket that lifted off from Wallop Island facility around 3pm. Abdul Kalam had had his rocket training at Wallop’s Island in the 60s. Kalamsat was the only Indian payload. The Kalamsat mission director is Srimathy Kesan. Kalamsat was designed and assembled at her residence in T Nagar, a residentia­l area in Chennai.

The flight time of the rocket is 240 minutes. And Kalamsat is programmed to separate from the mother vehicle 125 minutes after the lift-off. Once the life of the Kalamsat is over, as programmed it would land in the sea. Nasa will recover the tiny satellite and send it to Sharook and his friends.

The satellite is of the size that would fit into your palm and the volume of the cuboid gadget is just 3.8cm. Its structure was 3D printed with reinforced carbon fiber polymer.

Sharook said the satellite, after its life of 10 to 12 minutes has in fact landed in the sea in a parachute along with other payloads. He said his device was selected from a general competitio­n titled Cubes in Space, organised by I Doodle Learning and Colorado Space Grant Consortium in partnershi­p with Nasa.

SpaceKidz India is an associatio­n for rocket minded youths, in which Sharook is a member. They entered the contest under the name of SpaceKidz India.

Said Kesan: “There were nearly 100 people in our SpaceKidz office at T Nagar on Thursday watching the stream-transmissi­on on computers the launch of the rocket. We were so happy when everything went off well. We are now planning our next space mission.”

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