NASA is planning to launch what may be the world’s smallest satellite in June. The 64-gram satellite was the winning entry in a youth design contest.
According to BBC News, 18-year-old Rifath Sharook’s creation features the lightweight strength of 3D-printed carbon fiber. The diminutive satellite is scheduled to take a four-hour tour in suborbital flight to operate for 12 minutes in microgravity.
“We designed it completely from scratch,” Sharook said in a statement. “It will have a new kind of onboard 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-centimeter cube weighing 64 grams.”
The small satellite has been dubbed KalamSat after former Indian president and nuclear scientist Abdul Kalam, who was a great advocate for his country’s aeronautical programs. KalamSat is the first such device to be created using 3D printing.
Sharook’s satellite design might inform future materials choices among spacecraft designers.
“The main role of the satellite will be to demonstrate the performance of 3D-printed carbon fiber”, Sharook said.
The satellite will be launched on a NASA rocket on June 21 from a facility on Wallops Island.
The design challenge for which KalamSat took the prize is called Cubes in Space. The competition is sponsored by idoodlelearning in partnership with the Colorado Space Grant Consortium with support from NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and Sounding Rocket Program Offices. Since its inception in 2014, Cubes in Space has had over 5000 participants representing 57 countries.
Sharook currently works as a lead scientist for Space Kidz India, an organization which promotes science education for Indian youth.