NASA Launches KalamSat, World’s Lightest And Smallest Satellite

NASA launched the KalamSat
LaserLens / iStockphoto

On Wednesday, June 21, India created history by sending the world’s lightest and smallest satellite into space aboard a NASA sounding rocket. The satellite dubbed KalamSat – after scientist and former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam – weighs less than a smartphone, just 2.25 ounces or 64 grams.

What is astounding is that the ingenious creation is not the brainchild of space scientists or researchers, but was created by a group of Indian teenagers from Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

KalamSat: How And When Was It Created?

Eighteen-year-old Rifath Sharook developed the satellite as part of a worldwide competition called Cubes in Space, which was held in collaboration with NASA. As part of the competition, students from several countries across the globe were tasked with creating a small device that would be space-worthy. The students were also told that the winning entry would be sent out into the great unknown to conduct research.

It was at this time that Sharook built the device using 3D-printed carbon fiber, and unsurprisingly, the mini satellite managed to impress the judges and went on to become the best creation.

“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 said after KalamSat was selected by NASA to be carried to space aboard a rocket in June.

NASA launched the world’s lightest and smallest satellite, KalamSat, invented by an Indian teen. [Image by Patrick Semansky/AP Images] Patrick Semansky / AP Images

KalamSat’s Launch On June 21

On Wednesday, June 21, the KalamSat rocket was sent out to space aboard a NASA sounding rocket from the space agency’s facility in Wallop’s Island. The whole mission lasted 240 minutes, and 125 minutes after the launch, the sounding rocket carrying the smallest satellite in the world separated from it.

The KalamSat operated for 12 minutes in microgravity before splashing down into the sea. According to Sharook, the world’s smallest satellite’s primary goal was to demonstrate the performance of the 3D-printed carbon fiber polymer in the microgravity environment.

Sharook and his team rejoiced after the satellite’s launch on Wednesday and shared that they had worked hard to achieve this miraculous feat. Some of the components used to build the smallest satellite in the world were not available in India and had to be ordered abroad.

He claims that even after KalamSat was built, the team performed a lot of research to confirm that it was indeed the smallest satellite ever created, and now, it has become the smallest satellite ever to be sent out to space. NASA confirmed via a tweet that the suborbital rocket launched successfully.

KalamSat’s Data

After its space flight, the world’s lightest and smallest satellite splashed down into the sea. Researchers will recover the device from the depths and will begin the process of collecting data it captured while in the microgravity environment.

“Kalamsat fell into the sea. It will be recovered and NASA will be sending it back to us for decoding the data,” Srimathy Kesan, the mission director for the launch, said in an interview after the successful launch and subsequent splash down.

Other than assessing the performance of the 3D-printed carbon fiber material, the KalamSat was also equipped with a nano Geiger Muller counter, which will provide details about the radiation levels in space.

[Featured Image by LaserLens/iStockphoto]