Not long ago, talk of a satellite that would fit into a cube and weigh 64 grams, would have been dismissed as sci-fi and deemed impossible to make in the real life.
But not anymore. As this is exactly what has been built and that too by an 18-year-old student from Tamil Nadu, India.
Rifath Sharook, the inventor of the lightest satellite in the world, hails from the small town of Pallapatti, in the southern state of India.
And he is all set to break a global space record when his invention, named KalamSat, which will take flight and enter space when it is launched by a NASA sounding rocket on June 21 from Wallops Island, a NASA facility in the US.
The launch of the satellite, which is named after 'Missile Man' of India and former President APJ Abdul Kalam, will be the first time an Indian student's experiment is flown by NASA.
Speaking to a leading national daily, Rifath explained that the flight will be sub-orbital and post launch, the mission span is to be for four hours and his satellite will operate for 12 minutes in a micro-gravity environment of space.
He told the daily, "The main role of the satellite will be to demonstrate the performance of 3-D printed carbon fibre." And added that KalamSat was selected through 'Cubes in Space', a competition jointly organised by an organisation called 'I Doodle Learning' and NASA.
Talking on the difficulty he faced while trying to build the satellite, he said the main challenge was to design an experiment, which fit into the strict physical dimension required, i.e. four centimeters and weighing exactly 64 grams.
"We did a lot of research on different cube satellites all over the world and found ours was the lightest," he is reported to have said.
The satellite is made mostly of reinforced carbon fibre polymer and according to Rifath some of the components were obtained from abroad while others are indigenous.