Sending satellites to space is a ‘rocket science’, accomplished by nerdy scientists at various space research centers across the globe. But, what if a student decides to send a satellite into space? Na, Impossible! These are some of the response an idea like this is likely to get when posed to an average Joe walking on the road or to a brainy scientist with an IQ of over 160.
Unfazed by the discouraging responses they received, Space Kidz India, a Chennai based travel company decided to back an ambitious teenager Rifath Sharook, who dreamed of sending a student satellite in space.
Sharook, backed by Dr Srimathy Kesan, founder of SKI, have successfully managed to send a satellite into near-space. The mission took off at 11:07 Hrs on 23 August, 2015 and was launched in honor of late Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
The ‘Near space vehicle’ equipped with sensors accomplished the task of reading air quality, altitude, gases around near-space among other data. The team used a balloon weighing 1200 g, filled with Helium gas as a fuel to launch the payload box equipped with 10 sensors. Their dream – close to two years in the making – was supported by like-minded enthusiasts, like the Pro Chancellor of Hindustan University, Anand Jacob Verghese, who also brought in nine of his best students on board the project.
Apart from receiving a go-head from the State Government, District authorities of Kanchipuram and Air Traffic Controller, Chennai Airport, the team was also aided by educators at NASA and eminent professors at University of Central Florida.
After the launch vehicle reached near-space, a parachute attached to the payload brought down the equipment at Kuthunur, where a team awaited its landing. The data recorded by the sensors has been collected and is soon going to be made public so that similar ideas in the future receive an optimistic backing.
This was a first venture of its kind for India and a perfect tribute to the great scientist Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Our mission was to reach near space through low cost vehicles.
From tourism point of view, I feel why should Virgin Galactic be the only one working on designing a vehicle to take passengers to space. Why can’t we motivate our student community to invent, design a vehicle that could take people from India to space. This is our goal and we will achieve it.
stated SKI founder Srimathy Kesan.
It was during one such student program hosted by SKI called ‘Young Scientist India’ that Sharook’s ambitious plan took wings when the concept fell on Kesan’s ears. Motivated by the ingenious concept Kesan decided to back Sharook’s idea and helped make it a reality.