It has somewhat become a ritual in foreign space agencies to carry the names of common people on-board satellites that are undertaking ambitious missions. Now, this trend is being kickstarted in India, by Chennai-based SpaceKidz, that will be launching their SD Sat (an experimental communication satellite) on-board ISRO’s PSLV-C51 rocket in early 2021.
Satish Dhawan Satellite (SD Sat) is a 30x10x10cm cuboid, which is being launched into orbit to study space radiation, the magnetosphere and most importantly to demonstrate the indigenously designed and developed nanosatellite components, in line with Indian government’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India) policy. The satellite is named after Prof. Satish Dhawan, a former ISRO chairman and among the pioneers of space technology in India.
This miniature spacecraft would also test the capabilities of LoRa (Long range) technology in space which could be helpful for many applications in the future in short and M2M (machine-to-machine) communication. LoRa is a long-range, low-power wireless radio frequency technology that has become a common platform for the Internet of Things (IoT) networks worldwide.
According to Dr. Srimathy Kesan, Founder and CEO of SpaceKidz India, this satellite is their most ambitious yet and the first one that would have propulsion of its own. It is important to note that SpaceKidz earlier satellites were maintained in orbit on board PS4 (final and fourth stage) of the PSLV rocket for up to 6 months after launch. But SD Sat would fly on its own like the larger satellites and is expected to have a mission life of two years.
While their satellite would be primarily using Frequency-shift keying (FSK) to transmit data back to earth, LoRa would be the secondary. Experimenting with LoRa would help them study the feasibility of using LoRa in ground communications for industrial purposes.
“SD Sat (30x10x10cm)is a significant step for our 10-member team of college students, because so far we’ve only done 10cm cubes. The satellite fabrication is underway and it will be handed over to ISRO within three weeks from now. The important aspect of this mission is to establish communication with the satellite from our ground station in Chennai” she told Zee Media.
When asked about the idea of sending names of common people to space, she said it was an initiative to create awareness, generate curiosity and to get more people fascinated about space science, which many still perceive as inaccessible.
“We’ve shared a link on our website where people can enter their names (by Jan 3rd), we’ll compile the list and put the names on a memory card that’ll be on-board the satellite. Everyone who registered their name will get a boarding pass”, she added.
As a goodwill gesture, SpaceKidz team had also shared a similar boarding pass with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they had virtually interacted with him the previous week.