New Delhi: The countdown to the launch of the world’s smallest and lightest communication satellite, Kalamsat, developed by students began, late on Wednesday.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch the satellite from the first launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, at 11: 37 pm on Thursday. The satellite has been developed by Spacekidz, a Chennai-based group of students.
A smaller version of the student satellite was launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the US in June 2017 alongwith other experiments. However, the launch on 24 January by ISRO will be the first time that such a satellite will be put into orbital flight. The earlier satellite was put in sub-orbital flight, which is just near the boundary of outer space, but the trajectory is such that it carries the satellite back to earth without completing one orbital revolution.
Named after the former President of India and noted aerospace scientist A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the satellite is the smallest weighing 1.2 kgs and has a lifespan of two months.
It will also be the first time that ISRO will make use of a new variant of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), designated as PSLV-DL with two strap-on motors. PSLV-C44 will be the first mission of PSLV-DL.
PSLV is a four-stage launch vehicle. After the vehicle separates from the satellite, it turns into debris. In the current mission, scientists have attempted to make use of this fourth and final stage of the launch vehicle by moving it to higher circular orbit and adding a power system that will stabilise it and keep it alive for at least six months.
This will enable scientists to establish an innovative orbital platform that can be used by students to carry out experiments in space. Kalamsat will be the first to use this fourth stage as an orbital platform.
Earlier this week, ISRO chairman K. Sivan had called upon students from across the country to come forward with experiments that they wanted to conduct in space.
“The main purpose of student satellites is to enable students to conduct experiments in space. We see that students get involved in the whole process of building the associated systems, including the satellite bust and power system, instead of concentrating on the main science. We wanted to tell them that they can just bring their payload and we will plug in. All the paraphernalia is available with us. Students should just focus on the science, experiment, research and innovation," Sivan had said while announcing the launch of Kalamsat in New Delhi.
This will be the 46th flight of the PSLV. It will also carry Microsat-R, an imaging and surveillance satellite, for the Defence Research and Development Organisation.