space age

Watch: Meet the Tamil Nadu teen who designed the world’s tiniest, lightest satellite for NASA

Pallapatti’s Rifath Sharook, 18, has made a device which will get 12 minutes of glory in space.

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With a deceptively small, black-coloured cube, 18-year-old Rifath Sharook, a 12th grade student from Tamil Nadu’s Pallapatti town, has set a new record – designing the world’s smallest and lightest satellite.

His pocket-sized invention, named KalamSat after former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam, is the first to be manufactured using 3D printing. It is made of reinforced carbon fibre polymer, and weighs just 100 gm. Soon to be launched at a NASA facility, KalamSat will spend 12 minutes in space with a mission time of 240 minutes.

Sharook’s device was selected through a competition, “Cubes in Space”, jointly sponsored by NASA and “I Doodle Learning”.

“The main role of the satellite will be to demonstrate the performance of 3D-printed carbon fibre,” Sharook said in reports. In its flight time, the satellite will be used to demonstrate the viability of the technology and pave the way to plan economical space missions.

This is not young Sharook’s first invention. The young scientist, as part of the Chennai-based group Space Kidz India, which promotes science among children, had also built a helium weather balloon for a country-wide competition.

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Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

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Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

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It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.