A copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the names of 25,000 individuals will be carried to space by the Satish Dhawan Satellite, or SD SAT, which will be launched at the end of the month by the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV).
The nanosatellite, named after one of the founding fathers of India’s space programme and developed by SpaceKidz India, an organisation dedicated to promoting space science among students, will also carry three scientific payloads — one to study space radiation, one to study the magnetosphere, and another that will demonstrate a low-power wide-area communication network.
“There is a lot of excitement in the group right now. This will be our first satellite to be deployed in space. When we finalised the mission, we asked people to send in their names that will be sent to space. And, within a week we received 25,000 entries. Of these, 1,000 names were sent in by people from outside India. There is a school in Chennai that sent in the names of everyone. We decided to do this because it will spark interest of the people in the mission and space science,” said Dr Srimathy Kesan, founder and CEO of SpaceKidz India.
The people who sent in their names were given a “boarding pass”.
Kesan added that they decided to send a copy of the Bhagvad Gita to space on the lines of other space missions that have carried holy books such as the Bible. “We have also added the name and photograph of the prime minister on the top panel with the words Atmanirbhar mission. This satellite has been completely developed and fabricated in India, including the electronics and circuitry,” she said.
The names of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairperson Dr K Sivan and scientific secretary Dr R Umamaheswaran have been etched on the bottom panel.
The satellite will be transported to the spaceport at Sriharikota on Sunday after some design changes were made following recommendations by ISRO. “We are conducting last-minute checks before sending over the satellite. We had to re-do the solar panel on the satellites after testing at ISRO because there was a problem with the resin and there was bulge on a few cells. But it was thought that the entire thing might ooze out in space in two to three days,” said Kesan.
This is one of the two satellites developed by Indian startups that will be launched for the first time by ISRO after the country opened up the space sector to private entities in June last year.
The PSLV-C51 mission, scheduled for February 28, will carry Brazil’s earth observation satellite Amazonia-1 as the primary satellite along with 20 co-passenger satellites, including a nanosatellite from ISRO, three UnitySats by an academic consortium, and a demonstration satellite by another start-up, Pixxel (incorporated as Syzygy Space Technologies).
Pixxel plans to create a constellation of 30 earth observation satellites by December 2022 that will provide global coverage every 24 hours.