Among the passengers of the Indian Space Research Organization’s PSLV C51 rocket, slated for a February 28 launch, will be a small satellite built by a team of Indian students. Satish Dhawan Satellite (SDSat), a 30x10x10cm cuboid, is an experimental communication satellite built by Chennai-based SpaceKidz India. A nanosatellite will carry a copy of Bhagavad Gita, a photograph of Prime Mister Narendra Modi, and names of 25,000 individuals to space. The nanosatellite called Satish Dhawan Satellite, or SD SAT is named after one of the founding fathers of India’s space programme.

SpaceKidz India took this initiative in a bid to spark the interest of the people in the mission and space science as per the company’s founder and chief executive Dr Srimathy Kesan. “There is a lot of excitement in the group right now. This will be our first satellite to be deployed in space. When we finalised the mission, we asked people to send in their names that will be sent to space. And, within a week we received 25,000 entries. Of these, 1,000 names were sent in by people from outside India. There is a school in Chennai that sent in the names of everyone. We decided to do this because it will spark the interest of the people in the mission and space science,” she stated.

According to Dr. Srimathy Kesan, Founder and CEO of SpaceKidz India, this satellite is their most ambitious yet. It is important to note that, SpaceKidz earlier satellites were maintained in orbit onboard PS4 (final and fourth stage) of the PSLV rocket for upto 6 months after launch. But SD Sat would be directly launched into orbit, remain there on its own and is expected to have a mission life of two years.

When asked about the idea of sending names of common people to space, she said it was an initiative to create awareness, generate curiosity and to get more people fascinated about space science, which many still perceive as inaccessible. Some schools had sent the entire name list of the students to be carried on-board, she added.