In a significant initiative to stimulate scientific temperament and enthusiasm for space technology among young citizens of Seychelles, an Indian organization has facilitated the launch of Seychelles’ first-ever balloon satellite.
Entirely funded by UNESCO, this project dubbed “Mission Payanke” began with a four-member team from “Spacekidz India” training students from the African Nation School in satellite manufacturing, related fields, and helping them execute the launch and recovery of the satellite balloon weighing 2.5 kg.
According to Dr. Srimathy Kesan, Founder and CEO of Spacekidz India, their four-member team organized an 11-day workshop (April 19-30) for a group of 30 students, from humble backgrounds in the archipelago nation. The program provided training in the design, manufacture and launch of a balloon satellite, branches of engineering such as electronics, electricity, computer science, mechanics, in addition to the tracking, telemetry and remote control of the launched satellite.
Responding to a question from WION, Dr Kesan explained that the 2.5kg satellite launched using a helium balloon carried sensors to measure radiation, pressure, temperatures and other payloads built by the students and the LoRa module (intended for wireless, long range communication).
“The helium balloon with the satellite was attached to a parachute and then launched to an altitude of between 70,000 and 100,000 feet, where data collection on the upper atmosphere and near space can be performed. In its case our balloon reached 73,000 feet, then expanded and burst, only to be carried slowly by the attached parachute.Throughout the trip we had a 360 degree onboard camera giving us live aerial photos and data via slow scan television transmission technique,” she explained.
Later, the satellite that landed on a hillock was located using GPS, then spotted using a drone, after which the payload was recovered. According to SpaceKidz, this is the first time an Indian aerospace organization has gone overseas and launched balloon satellites for educational purposes.
Conducted in the presence of the Vice President and other senior officials of the Government of Seychelles and General Dabir Singh Suhag (retired), the Indian High Commissioner to Seychelles, this initiative gives impetus to Seychelles’ national effort to build a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering AND Math) Rocket research and experimentation park, in the coming years.
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