One can expect that scientists and engineers will develop the world’s lightest satellite device. But no, it had to be a teenager.
Rifath Shaarook, an 18-year-old boy from India, designed a 64-gram tiny satellite which primary function is to test the durability of its extremely light, 3D-printed casing. It is made of reinforced carbon fiber polymer frame, which is a material superior in strength-to-weight ratio, commonly used in aerospace engineering.
He emerged as winner in an international competition called Cubes in Space with his design. The only criteria was a space-worthy device that is able to fit in a 4-meter cube with weight no more than 64 grams.
Source: Shaarook’s Facebook
Called the KalamSat, the winning device was named after Indian nuclear scientist and former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. He was a pioneer in the country’s plans in the field of aeronautical science.
NASA, alongside Colorado Space Grant Consortium, supported the competition which was run by education company idoodlelearning.
Now the space agency plans to launch the world’s lightest satellite device this June. It will embark on a 4-hour sub-orbital mission launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
In an interview with Business Standard, Shaarook shared that he and his team 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,” he said.
The 18-year-old does wonders as lead scientist at Space Kidz India, an organization which promotes science and education for Indian children and teenagers.