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NASA to Launch Indian Teen-Designed 'Lightest Satellite' KalamSat to Space

May 18, 2017 11:04 AM EDT
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NASA Smallest Satellite
The world's lightest satellite, KalamSat, only weighs 64 grams (0.14 lbs). It will be launched in a four-hour suborbital mission from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on June 21.
(Photo : One India News/YouTube Screenshot)

NASA is known to perform crowd-sourcing efforts in order to discover and develop new ideas that will aid in space explorations. Recently, the agency chose to fund a satellite designed by a teenager.

An Indian student, Rifath Shaarok, built what is now dubbed as the "lightest satellite" called KalamSat. The small satellite design won in an international competition and NASA agreed to launch it next month.

"We designed it completely from scratch," 18-year-old Shaarook said in an interview with Business Standard. "It will have a new kind of onboard computer and eight ... built-in sensors to measure acceleration, rotation, and the magnetosphere of Earth."

The lightest satellite called KalamSat was named after an Indian nuclear scientist and former official President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. KalamSat is remarkably light due to its reinforced carbon fiber polymer, which has an astonishing strength-to-weight ratio. The material is currently being used for aerospace engineering and other devices on Earth.

The world's lightest satellite, KalamSat, only weighs 64 grams (0.14 lbs). It will be launched in a four-hour suborbital mission from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on June 21. However, its maiden flight will not make use of its capability as a satellite but rather to test the durability of the extremely light, 3D printed casing.

"The main role of the satellite will be to demonstrate the performance of 3D printed fiber," Shaarook added.

Shaarook won in the Cubes in Space competition supported by NASA. The challenge was to create a device that will fit into a 13-foot cube. The device shouldn't weigh more than 64 grams and it should be designed for space use.

"It will have a new kind of onboard computer and eight indigenous built-in sensors to measure acceleration, rotation and the magnetosphere of the earth," Shaarok said.

During the launch on June 21, the lightest satellite KalamSat will be online and operational for 12 minutes in space.

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