Buoyed by space projects taken up in universities abroad and by the success of Indian student satellite StudSat, a bevy of colleges have approached ISRO to help them create miniature satellites.

B.Tech. students from around 25 universities across the country have approached the space agency for technical guidance to develop small satellites, and to provide them a free launch-pad, said Project Director of Small Satellites, ISRO, Raghav Murthy in his presentation at the Bengaluru Space Expo 2010 on Thursday.

“We have been receiving letters, phone calls and proposals from students who want to build their own satellites. Our task is now to review them,” he told The Hindu. Most students are interested in designing satellites in the nano-satellite (1 to 10 kg) and micro-satellite (10 to 100 kg) categories.

“This is an encouraging development because it indicates a growing interest in space technology among students,” said Mr. Murthy and added that the experience of developing a satellite and seeing the mission to completion gives young engineers a wealth of experience about these complex systems.

Pending projects

There are, however, pending projects that have to be attended to first, including those at four universities that are well on their way to developing small satellites, he said. IIT Bombay is working on a 10-kg satellite, ‘Pratham', fitted with a ‘total electronic content' measuring instrument, while IIT Kanpur is planning a five-kg satellite, ‘Jugnu', with a near-infrared imaging system.

Two Chennai-based universities — SRM University and Sathyabama University — are also developing small satellites to measure atmospheric pollution. Each of these projects will cost the universities under Rs. 1 crore, and the satellites will be in orbit by the end of 2011, Mr. Murthy said.

Small satellites, Mr. Murthy said in his address, have a bright future and are perfect platforms to train students in space technology.

“Small satellites also allow for multiple-satellite launches through a single vehicle,” he added.

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