In a race to develop smaller and lighter technology, companies usually spend millions of dollars. From smartphones to computers, latest devices are smaller and more compact than the earlier iterations.
Space agencies are no different and they are persevering to create smaller satellites and payloads, which are easier to deliver to the Earth's orbit vis-à-vis larger ones. A teen from India has the solution to the problem. The 18-year-old accomplished something even NASA scientists have been unable to — create the smallest satellite ever.
KalamSat: The Smallest Satellite
The 3D-printed satellite dubbed KalamSat is just 1.5 inches in size and weighs just 2.25 ounces, making it the smallest and the lightest satellite. To put things into perspective, the KalamSat is even lighter than an iPhone!
The satellite is the brainchild of Rifath Sharook who made it using lightweight carbon fiber. The enterprising teen used a 3D printer to develop the fiber.
Come June 21, NASA will launch the smallest satellite aboard a rocket from a facility on Wallops Island. KalamSat will take a 4-hour long journey to operate for 12 minutes in microgravity.
"We built it completely from scratch. It will have a new kind of on-board computer and eight indigenous built-in sensors to measure acceleration, rotation and the magnetosphere of the Earth," Sharook revealed in an interview.
The teenager shared that the primary purpose for sending KalamSat into space was to ascertain whether the reinforced carbon fiber 3D-printed element was sturdy enough to bear the various pressures during the microgravity flight.
KalamSat: What Prompted The Name?
Sharook chose to name his creation KalamSat after former Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, who was also a scientist and greatly supported scientific pursuits.
The science protégé entered his satellite in a NASA organized competition titled the "Cubes In Space." School students from across the world were told to invent a device that could fit inside a 13-foot cube and weighed no more than 2.25 ounces.
The contest received over 86,000 entries from 57 countries out of which 80 were chosen. Among these final 80 inventions, Sharook's tiny KalamSat managed to impress judges and he won the competition.
Other Similar Teen Scientists
NASA has a habit of accepting help from external sources and the agency believes scientific knowledge may come from people of all ages, races, and creed.
In March, NASA was in the news when a 17-year-old UK teen corrected some of its data, which was gathered from the International Space Station. Another 17-year-old's creation named the miniPCR is also set to be sent aboard the ISS. This device is said to be capable of analyzing space-faring microbes on the spot and will be of immense help in scientific research and study on the space station.