India's Space Organisation Launches Student Made Satellite

India’s Space Research Organisation launched two satellites yesterday from its base in Sriharikota.
Jessica Miley

India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched an imaging satellite, Microsat-R, for India's Defence Research and Development Organisation and a student developed communication satellite called Kalamsat yesterday.

Both satellites will be carried by a new variant of India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket. 

“We will be launching 700-kg Microsat-R and Kalamsat with a new variant of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). In order to reduce the weight and increase the mass, an aluminum tank is used for the first time in the fourth stage," K Sivan, Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), told India News Today (IANS).

Student-designed satellite takes the name from former leader

The Kalamsat satellite was developed by an Indian high-school team led by Rifath Shahrukh, an 18-year-old from the Tamil Nadu town of Pallapatti. It is the world's lightest satellite and the first satellite to be 3D printed. It takes its name from former Indian president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. 

“The Kalamsat is a 10cm cube nano-satellite weighing about 1.2kg. The satellite's life span is about two months and its cost is about Rs. 12 lakh," Srimathy Kesan, Founder-CEO of Space Kidz India, told IANS.

The launch of the Kalamsat is part of a larger program to involve Indian students with the work of ISRO. Space Kidz is a program that aims to involve high-school students closely with India's top researchers. 

Speaking to the media last week,ISRO chairman K. Sivan explained that three students from each of the 29 states and 7 union territories would be selected for training at ISRO Centers. They will have the opportunity to work closely with ISRO leading science and develop small satellites. 

If their world is of high-quality some of the satellites may be used in future launches. The launch took place from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota. 

Rocket takes off in the new configuration

The PSLV was launched in a new configuration called PSLV-DL. Normally the rocket would have six strap-on motors hugging its first stage. However, for this satellite launch, it had a two strap-on motors configuration. 

The rocket ejected Microsat R approximately 14 minutes into its flight at an altitude of about 277km. The Kalamsat will take advantage of the rocket's fourth stage. 

It is the first time that a student-designed satellite has been delivered into a proper orbit as its earlier satellites were suborbital ones. ISRO is ramping up its program with several more satellite missions planned for 2019. 

Space-Kidz program puts students at the face of new research

The organisation says that under the space-Kidz program a new satellite is being planned that has the ability to conduct space-based experiments.

“We are planning to build a satellite called Vikramsat to do some biological experiment in the space. By this we hope to contribute in a small way to India's ambitious human space mission Gaganyaan," Founder CEO of Space Kidz India, Srimathy Kesan told local news.