CHENNAI: Students and faculty at Chennai’s Sathyabama University are happy. The 1.5-kilo satellite “Sathyabamasa” they built to collect data on greenhouse gasses is now successfully orbiting the earth – one of the 20 satellites launched on Wednesday by ISRO’s PSLV rocket.
The launch was the culmination of 7 years of hard work by the faculty and students. A base station, set up on the top floor of the university, is tracking the satellite – they say it is doing well.
Though an electronics student, Nehal has now made up his mind to pursue space technology.
“We learned the basics all over again, but implementing them was a huge challenge. We failed many times and there were only a few successes, but success matters,” he said.
Dr. Vasanth, who heads the Department of Electronics, agreed. “A success of this kind might pave the way for a career in space technology,” he added.
India’s success has already drawn eyeballs and the frugal nature of ISRO only ensures a higher profit margin in the days to come as satellite launch market grows increasingly lucrative.
The business of putting commercial satellites into space for a fee is already a fast growing segment, with communication becoming hi-tech and cellphone and Internet usage growing exponentially.
The low-cost aspect reflected in the students’ space project too – their satellite cost only Rs.1.5 crore. But for the students, the excitement of getting the opportunity over-rode everything.
Vice Chancellor Dr. B Sheela Rani said, “The students themselves designed the satellite and it was a huge learning experience. They worked with the great scientists of ISRO”.
Sathyabamasat would have a six-month life. The university plans to share all the pollution data its eye in the space would send with colleges and the Met office.
It was a dream project for the University’s founder Dr. Jeppiaar, who died a few days ago. “Although he’s not with us to celebrate, he’s watching the satellite from close quarters,” Dr. Sheela added.