This small satellite weighs only 64 grams and will be launched on a four-hour sub-orbital mission from the NASA Wallops Island (Wallops Flight Facility) On June 21, 2017. Once the satellite is positioned in microgravity, its main objective will be to test the durability of its extremely lightweight and 3D-printed case. The teenager, who built it from scratch, has won an international competition to build a functioning satellite.
“We designed it entirely from scratch," said Rifath Shaarook, 18. “He will have a new type of on-board computer and eight integrated sensors to measure the Earth's acceleration, rotation and magnetosphere," he added.
Shaarook participated in the Cubes in Space competition with his invention. This competition is run by an educational company called I Doodle Learning and is supported by NASA as well as by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.
The challenge presented to the students was to invent a device that could fit into a cube of 4 centimeters and that would weigh no more than 64 grams. And above all, the machine had to be useful for the space domain. The small satellite created by Shaarook surpassed all other competitors. He was named "Kalam SAT", referring to an Indian nuclear scientist and former president of the country, APJ Abdul Kalam.
The KalamSat satellite owes its lightness to its carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer frame: a material with a very high strength to weight ratio that can be used in every field imaginable, whether in aerospace engineering or a completely different area, for fishing lines for example.
On June 21, 2017, the small satellite will be launched for a sub-orbital flight where it will begin a round-trip journey of 4 hours. A sub-orbital flight means that the craft goes up and down, while an orbital flight implies that the craft continues to circulate around the Earth.
It's not a first for NASA to look for ideas outside of its teams of scientific experts and engineers. Last March, for example, a 17-year-old British student corrected some NASA data. Miles Soloman was analyzing the data recorded by the radiation detectors on the International Space Station (ISS) during the six-month stay of astronaut Tim Peake and found an error in the levels of radiation, energy.
A few weeks ago, the agency also announced that it would launch a device called the miniPCR on the ISS to test the evolution of in situ space microbes for the very first time. This device was also invented by a teenager, specifically a 17-year-old student named Anna-Sophia Boguraev.