An 18-year-old has developed what may well be the smallest satellite ever built, one that NASA is going to launch into space in June.
Rifath Shaarook has built a satellite that weighs just 64-grams and is only 1.5 inches wide. The 18-year-old won a design competition called Cubes in Space, a challenge organised by NASA, the Colorado Space Grant Consortium and education firm idoddle.
It’s made from 3D-printed carbon fiber and will be launched on June 21 from NASA’s facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. Rifath has said it’s going to go on a four hour suborbital flight, 12 minutes of which the cube will spend in microgravity. He has named the cube KalamSat, after the late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former president of India and renowned nuclear and space scientist.
“We designed it completely from scratch. 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,” said Rifath, who’s from Tamil Nadu but is currently working for Space Kidz in Chennai, India, an organisation that specialises in encouraging youngsters to get involved in science.
It always pleases us to see teenagers pushing the boundaries of science, just like it did when schoolboys Sankha Kahagala-Gamage and David Bernstein won the Big Bang UK by inventing a vest that can predict epileptic seizures. The sheer number of applications for 3D printing is also becoming vast, not only can it be used to make carbon fibre satellites, it can now be used to make glass. What does the future hold for 3D printing?