Inside one of the laboratories of a city engineering college, a group of students are hard at work. They are building two satellites that will hopefully go into orbit as successors to a miniature craft launched into space by another set of students in 2010.
STUDSAT-2 is in the works under a programme recognized by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Costing almost Rs 1.6 crores – raised by the Visvesvaraya Technological University and seven colleges from where the present-batch of students are drawn – the mission’s objective is to demonstrate communication between two mini-satellites.
Chosen through a slew of tough written tests, practicals and interviews, the students belong to seven colleges: Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology, NMAM Institute of Technology, MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Siddaganga Institute of Technology, Sri Siddhartha Institute of Technology, RNS Institute of Technology and Nagarjuna College of Engineering and Technology. Five of the colleges are located in Bengaluru, one is in Ujire and and the other in Tumkur.
Under ISRO’s student satellite programme, the young engineers design, fabricate, test and deliver the integrated unit for launch.
“By early May, we will be submitting the project design review to the ISRO team. Once the review is done, we will have to sign an MoU with the space agency that the satellite will be handed over to them within one year,” pointed out Dr S Sandya, project director of STUDSAT-2 and head of Department of Electronics and Communication at the Nittee Meenakshi Institute of Technology.
ISRO will then set the launch window, which is likely in late 2016 or early 2017. The satellite will be launched by ISRO’s launch vehicle.
The space organisation says the 2010 launch of the first craft was a success. “The STUDSAT’s primary objective was to promote space technology in educational institutions and encourage research and development in miniaturised satellites among others. The satellite performed all the objectives,” said DP Karnik, an ISRO spokesman.
Buoyed by the success, the current batch of students is busy giving shape to their dreams.
“After completion of my engineering course, though I got an offer from a private company, I opted to be part of the STUDSAT team as the challenges involved in this project are far greater. Moreover working here is like being part of a startup where one is involved in each and every aspect of work,” said Sandesh R Hegde, a team member.
“The generic line is that everybody goes to IT or the corporate world but we want to do something different. The exposure here is unique and cannot be experienced elsewhere,” said Divyanshu Sahay, who joined the team in 2014.