Edited By: Pathikrit Sen Gupta
Last Updated: February 10, 2023, 21:55 IST
Students who designed ISRO’s AzaadiSAT-2 arrive to watch the launch of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle SSLV-D2 carrying EOS-07, Janus-1 and AzaadiSAT-2 satellites, at Satish Dhawan Space Station in Sriharikota, on Friday. (Pic/PTI)
The AzaadiSAT-2 was put together by girl students enrolled in government schools across the country. They contributed to the design and construction of the satellite built by Chennai-based startup Space Kidz India
When the small satellite rocket SSLV-D2 took off from the ISRO Sriharikota launch pad on Friday morning, it was a giant leap for rural innovation – an 8.7-kg satellite built by girl students from across 75 schools rode along with two other satellites into space.
The AzaadiSAT-2 was put together by girl students enrolled in government schools across the country. They contributed to the design and construction of the satellite built by Chennai-based startup Space Kidz India.
The girl students contributed mainly to coding that enabled the sensors in the satellite. AzaadiSAT-2 is an earth observation satellite placed in a 450-km orbit on Friday. The satellite follows its unsuccessful predecessor, which had entered an unstable orbit following the failure of a previous small satellite rocket to inject payloads in the right orbit.
“It is a proud moment for us to witness this historic launch,” one of the girls who contributed to AzaadiSAT told ET.
The St Francis Girls High School, Secunderabad, in Telangana was among the 75 schools that contributed to the building of the satellite. The tenth-grade students were an excited lot. Zunaira Asadullah Hussaini, a 15-year-old student, said: “Due to exams, we were not able to travel to Sriharikota,” she exclaimed. “We watched it online. It was a proud moment. We will cherish it for a lifetime. We will try to do more in aerospace.”
The seven-year-old aerospace startup Space Kidz has been a keen enabler in taking rocket science to children. The startup designs, fabricates, and launches small satellites, So far, it has put in space over 18 Balloon Sats, two suborbital payloads, and three orbital satellites.
For the students, rocket science was a far cry amid parental obsessions driving them toward homogeneous careers: either engineers or medical doctors. Shreya M, a student who took part in the programme, said it was indeed a great idea to bring in girl children to participate in aeronautical space. “Engineering and MBBS have been normal but working in the space sector and knowing more about space is interesting. It has captured our interest,” she said.
For the programme, students had to download toolkits and software to equip themselves for the satellite launch. There was individual programming too.
Genevieve Thomas, a student, said, “We got an invitation from Space Kidz. We are very thankful to our management that they allowed us to explore this. We got motherboards from the Space Kidz team. We had to download software (Arduino Ide) and with the guidance of the team, we programmed it.”
The process had elements of fun, too. “On the motherboard, there was a bulb which would glow if the programme was successful. After the glowing of the bulb, we could see the changes in the humidity and environment,” she said.
For teachers, the science programme was a step into the extraordinary, away from the usual pedagogical humdrum of teaching. Cynthia C, a 49-year-old teacher who mentored students from Government Girls Higher Secondary School, said the opportunity was pure gold. “We downloaded the Arduino IDE Software, set up Raspberry Pi (a single-board computer) and installed the library,” she said. Cynthia is looking forward to similar programmes that inspire students.
Anjali, an eleventh grader from Haryana, says she is still reeling. “We were excited and nervous at the same time. Last time, it was a partial failure. It is indeed a proud moment for every girl child in this country. Next time, we want to go to the moon, and I’m sure I will,” said Anjali.
Read all the Latest India News here