Rifath Sharook, an 18-year-old from India, has made a 3-D printed satellite that weighs just 2.25 ounces and is lighter than an iPhone. The satellite, dubbed KalamSat, was named after the former Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
KalamSat was Sharook’s winning entry to Cubes in Space – a NASA-supported competition. As part of his prize for winning the competition, NASA will launch the satellite on June 21 from Wallops Island, Va. in a sounding rocket. The mission will last for 240 minutes. Sharook says the purpose of his experiment is to see how 3D printed carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) performs in the microgravity of outer space.
“We did a lot of research on different cube satellites all over the world and found ours was the lightest,” he told the Times of India.
Sharook’s project was funded by Space Kidz India, an organization dedicated to educating young people in science and technology and guiding them toward careers in the field. Sharook is also a member of the NASA Kids’ Club. All of the materials for the project were locally sourced, according to Sharook.
“We designed it completely from scratch,” said Sharook. “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. The main challenge was to design an experiment to be flown to space which would fit into a four-meter cube weighing 64 grams.”
While the KalamSat will be Sharook’s first project to make outer space, it is not his first invention. Two years ago, he built a helium weather balloon as a part of nationwide competition for young scientists.