An Indian teenager recently won an award for building the world’s lightest satellite KalamSat. And the most fascinating is, even NASA also agreed to launch it next month. Developed by Rifath Sharook, an 18-year-old boy, from Tamil Nadu’s Pallapatti town, KalamSat weighs only 64 grams.
According to reports, it will embark on a 4-hour sub-orbital mission launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on June 21.
Rifath Shaarook said, “We designed it completely from scratch. It will have a new kind of onboard computer and eight … built-in sensors to measure acceleration, rotation, and the magnetosphere of Earth.”
Shaarook participated in the Cubes in Space competition for his invention. The competition is actually driven by education company I doodle learning and supported by NASA and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. During the competition, students were asked to invent a device that could fit into a 4-metre (13-foot) cube and weigh no more than 64 grams. And, most importantly, it had to be space-worthy.
This new invention is the first to be manufactured via 3D printing. The main purpose of this project is to take the performance of new technology to space.
Sharook said, “It would be a sub-orbital flight and after launch, the mission span would be 240 minutes. The tiny satellite would operate for 12 minutes in a micro-gravity environment of space.”
“The main role of the satellite will be to demonstrate the performance of 3D-printed carbon fiber.”
The satellite owes its lightness to its reinforced carbon fiber polymer frame – a material that has a super-high strength-to-weight ratio. It will be used in everything from aerospace engineering to fishing line.