• It’s twice the size of the popular Rubik Cube puzzle. Fits smartly in one’s palm, but is a full communication satellite. Named ExseedSAT1.
• The micro satellite is all set to fly on the Falcon 9 rocket of SpaceX, the company promoted by Elon Musk promoted on midnight Sunday.
• The ‘Made in India’ micro satellite built by a small start up will be the first built in the private sector to go into space. It will be one of the 66 odd ones from 17 nations that will be placed in the orbit by the launcher from the Vandenberg Air Force base, California, US.
• The satellites of this form are called Cubesats. Typically they are 10 cm across. About two decades ago such a communication satellite would weigh 100 kgs. Miniaturisation has helped achieve this says Ashhar Farhan, one of the founders of the start up called Exseed Space.
• Though the company was s based in Mumbai, all the development work was done by a consortium of small enterprises from Hyderabad and a jeweller, Jawahart ul Osman, who made the special silver wires as well as firms like Alpha Design & Astra Microwave.
• To building and launching satellites has been the exclusive preserve of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the main driver of the impressive space programme.
• Early this year, through its commercial arm Antrix Agency, ISRO had encouraged private participation and building of satellites.
• This satellite is freely available for all radio amateurs across the world. It is an open radio transponder that works on ham radio frequencies. One has to pay just Rs 100 license from the WPC to communicate through this satellite.
• The Indian government has waived the need for security clearances for amateur radio, enabling a lot of students to quickly apply and obtain radio amateur license, Farhan told BusinessLine.
• ExseedSAT1 aims to provide a major boost to private radio operators after ISRO-manufactured micro-satellite, HAMSAT, ceased operations about four years ago. The amateur radio services provide vital communication links during natural disasters.
• Amateur radio operators are granted license by a governmental regulatory authority after passing an examination on applicable regulations, electronics, radio theory, and radio operation.
• Exseed Space aims to develop small satellite platforms with a primary focus on assembly, integration, testing and operation of satellites, says Farhan, who with Kris Nair started the firm in 2017.
• “Our plan is to continue to build small affordable satellites. Now, for the price of a luxury car or a flat, you can actually own a satellite for your own organization”, Farhan says.
• It is akin to the PC revolution: In the 1970s no one could imagine that in ten years, the computers would sit on your desk and you would use it for writing and corresponding. This is a similar inflection point.
• NASA, ISRO will continue to build large ambitious interplanetary spacecrafts and super-satellites while the ‘small space’ will belong to our kind of startups.
Mains Paper 3: Science and Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space
Prelims level: Particulars of the ExseedSAT1
Mains level: Utilities of the ExseedSAT1