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18-Year-Old Kid Builds World’s Lightest Satellite

First Posted: May 18, 2017 05:20 AM EDT
Indian Teen Builds World's Lightest Satellite: NASA Cubes In Space Competition
An Indian teenager has built what is thought could be the world’s lightest satellite, which will be put into orbit at a NASA facility in the U.S. in June. Rifath Sharook’s 64-gram device was selected as the winner in a competition co-sponsored by NASA. The 18-year-old teen says its main purpose was to demonstrate the performance of 3-D printed carbon fiber.
(Photo : defence and space updates/YouTube screenshot)

NASA and many other space agencies are looking into launching satellites to the Earth's orbit. However, none of them managed to make one as small and as light as an Indian teenager did.

Rifath Sharook designed a tiny satellite weighing only 64 grams for an international competition. Not only did he manage to produce what was said to be the world's lightest satellite device but he was also given the honor to launch it with NASA next month.

Science Alert reported that the very small satellite will undertake on a 4-hour mission launched from NASA's own Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on June 21. Once positioned properly in microgravity, the durability of its 3D-printed casing will be tested.

Sharook's satellite was designed completely from scratch. He said that it has a "new kind of on-board computer" and eight built-in sensors that can help measure acceleration, rotation and even the magnetosphere of the Earth. The device was entered into the Cubes in Space competition, which was run by education company called idoodlelearning, and is supported by NASA and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.

NASA has always been open to seeking ideas outside its team of expert scientists and engineers, proving that good scientists can be found anywhere. In March, the agency made waves when its data was corrected by a 17-year-old student from the U.K. Just a few weeks ago, the agency also announced that it will be launching a device invented by 17-year-old Anna-Sophia Boguraev.

The challenge encouraged students to invent a device that could fit into a 13-foot cube and weigh no more than 64 grams. The most important aspect is that it would be space-worthy. Sharook's invention is that and more. He stated that the satellite's main purpose is to demonstrate whether or not 3D-printed carbon can withstand an orbital launch.

This is not Sharook's first invention. The New York Post said that he also invented a helium water balloon when he was only 15 years old. He was the lead scientist at Space Kids India, an organization that promotes science education for kids and teens in the country.

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