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NASA to launch world's lightest satellite designed by Indian student!

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rifath_sharook_with_kalamsatRifath Sharook with his design - world's lightest satellite, "KalamSat"

18 year old Rifath Sharook from Pallapatti in Tamil Nadu got his plus two results last week, he scored 750 marks out of 1,200. Not an impressive score, one might think. But what is impressive is Rifath's achievements beyond his class 12 board results - he has designed the world's lightest satellite that will be launched by NASA on 22 June!

Weighing a mere 64 grams, the satellite has been named "KalamSat" in honour of India's missile man and former President, Dr. Abdul Kalam who is Rifath's inspiration.

beta_version_lightest_satellite_kalamsatKalamSat placed next to a one rupee coin - see how tiny it is!

Rifath designed KalamSat with his team at the Chennai-based Space Kidz India, an organisation promoting science and education for Indian children and teenagers. He was the "lead scientist" of this project and had Vinay Bharadwaj as "project engineer", Tanishq Dwevedi as "structural designer", Yagna Sai as " design engineer", Abdul Khasif as "project engineer", Gobi Nath as "biologist".

rifath_sharook_and_team_that_made_worlds_lightest_satelliteRifath Sharook with his team at Space Kidz India that designed KalamSat

The team had designed their light-weight satellite as part of a contest called "Cubes in Space" by idoodlelearning  partner with the Colorado Space Grant Consortium with support from NASA's Science Mission Directorate and Sounding Rocket Program. Rifath's KalamSat is among 80 models selected from 86,000 designs submitted by young contestants belonging to 57 countries across the world. 

The main challenge was to set up an experiment that could be taken to space & would also fit into a 4m cube weighing exactly 64 grams. "We did a lot of research on different cube satellites all over the world and found ours was the lightest," said Rifath about his satellite that is mainly made of reinforced carbon fibre polymer, with some components procured from abroad and some locally."

NASA's Sounding Rocket-4 or SR-4 that will be launching KalamSat into space will have a sub-orbital flight whose mission span will be 4 hours out of which the tiny KalamSat would operate for 12 minutes in a micro-gravity environment of space. KalamSat's purpose is to show the performance of 3-D printed carbon fibre. Built completely from scratch, the satellite has an on-board computer and 8 native sensors that would measure acceleration, rotation and the magnetosphere of earth.