K. Yagna Sai’s childhood ambition was to become a pilot, but his determination helped him in designing a satellite and sending it to the outer space.
A native of Tirupati, Sai was part of the six-member team from Chennai-based Space Kidz India that designed KALAMsat, which was launched by NASA at Wallops, Virginia, on June 22. A B. Tech final year student at Hindustan University, Chennai, Sai was the ‘Lead Technician’ in the team that designed the satellite termed as world’s lightest (weighing a mere 64 gm) and also the first 3D-printed.
‘KALAM Sat’, a femto category satellite named after former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, was one of the 86,000 entries received from across the globe, and the only one from India, for a contest conducted by IDOODLE and Colorado Space Grand Consortium, in partnership with NASA. It was a 3.8 cm cube satellite, made of reinforced carbon fibre polymer. This was the only satellite among the 70 cubes sent by the NASA rocket, while the other entries were experimental samples, say blood, chewing gum etc. to study their behaviour in space.
Led by Mission Director Srimathy Kesan, the team had Rifath Sharook (lead scientist), Vinay Bharadwaj (design engineer), Tanishq Dwivedi (flight engineer), Gobinath (biologist) and Mohammad Abdul Kashif (lead engineer).
The satellite contained a temperature and humidity sensor, a barometric pressure sensor and a ‘Nano Geiger Muller counter’ to measure radiation in the outer space. “Our satellite collected these details in a 12-minute period during its four hour-mission,” Sai told The Hindu, the results of which are yet to reach them.
Sai attributed his success to the efforts of Ms. Kesan and the support of his parents K. Ramu and K. Vani. The boy is not only keen on developing ‘Space Kidz India’ as a vibrant brand name, but also wants to delve deep into space science for higher research.