May 15, 2017 | By Benedict

An 18-year-old student from Tamil Nadu in India has used 3D printing to create what could be the world’s lightest satellite. The 3D printed carbon fiber device weighs just 64 grams, and will be launched on a NASA sounding rocket on June 21.

You only have to look at the never-ending supply of ultra-compact CubeSats to realize that small, lightweight satellites are becoming an important area of space research.

It’s easy to see why too: by making satellites as small as possible, it becomes possible to pack dozens of them on a single launch. They can then be ejected either individually or as a cluster into the required area of the atmosphere, and in no time at all you’ve got a bunch of orbiting devices collecting potentially vital information to send down to earth.

But even ultra-compact CubeSats look a little bulky when compared to a tiny satellite that was recently developed by an 18-year-old student in India.

In fact, Rifath Shaarook, an 18-year old student from Karur district in Tamil Nadu, has built what could be the lightest satellite in the world. The KalamSat, which weighs just 64 grams, is made from a 3D printed carbon fiber polymer, and was chosen as the winner of the Cubes in Space contest organized by NASA and IDoodle learning. Amazingly, the satellite is going to space.

On June 21, NASA will pack the tiny satellite on a sounding rocket to be launched from Wallop Island, off the Eastern Shore of Virginia, for a 240-minute sub-orbital space flight mission. Once up in the atmosphere, the 3D printed satellite will be in a the micro-gravity environment of space for 12 minutes, before in begins its downward trajectory back towards the ocean.

The launch will be a huge achievement for Shaarook, who will become the first Indian student to have an experiment flown by NASA.

But the launch could be great news for 3D printing as well. One of the main roles of the satellite is to see how 3D printed carbon fiber fares in space. Should the device survive those 12 minutes in space, other satellite developers on Earth will have good reason to try using 3D printed carbon fiber polymers themselves.

The Cubes in Space contest, in which Shaarook’s lightweight satellite came out on top in the Space Kidz India program, encourages students to design an experiment that could be sent to space.

“Our goal is to help kids from around the world learn to problem-solve, to get them inspired about learning, to learn skills and develop interests that will prepare them to succeed in the future,” its organizers say.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Richard Hunt wrote at 5/16/2017 3:16:06 AM:

What does it do ?

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