A made in India nanosatellite named Satish Dhawan Satellite is all set to carry a copy of Bhagavad Gita, a photograph of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the names of 25,000 individuals to space. The nanosatellite is named after Satish Dhawan, who was one of the founding fathers of the Indian Space Program.

The nanosatellite is planned to be launched on February 29 by the ISRO onboard the PSLV-C51 mission. The satellite is developed by SpaceKidz India, the world’s only organization that has launched satellites to space through bright highschool and college students. SpaceKidz founder and CEO, Srimathy Kesan spoke to Hindustan Times and said, “There is a lot of excitement in the group right now. This will be our first satellite to be deployed in space.”

The Satish Dhawan satellite or SD Sat will also send the names of Indian citizens to space. According to the SpaceKidz founder, this is an effort that will spark interest in people in space science. Kesan said, “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.”

The nanosatellite will also carry a photograph of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the words Atmanirbhar mission on the satellite top panel. The satellite is an indigenous development with everything from circuitry to development to deployment carried in India. This aligns the front right and center with the Prime Minister’s mission of an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India).

The SD Sat was transported to the ISRO spaceport at Sriharikota on Sunday after the development company made some design changes that were suggested by the ISRO. According to Kesan, last-minute checks were being conducted before sending the satellite over to the spaceport. ISRO suggested a complete re-do of the solar panel on the satellites as there was a problem with resin and it was thought that the entire thing might fall apart in space within 2-3 days.

The SD Sat is one of the two satellites that are developed by private Indian startups which will be launched by ISRO. The development comes after India opened the space sector by welcoming private entities in June last year.

Goals of the Satish Dhawan Satellite

  • Study and gather space radiation-related data
  • Study Magnetosphere
  • Demonstrate completely India made nanosatellite components that align with Prime Minister Modi’s vision – Atmanirbhar Bharat Initiative.
  • The second satellite built by another Indian private company Pixxel will also be launched with SD Sat. The Pixxel has developed a satellite called ‘Anand’ which will be used for forest fire detection, oil and gas leaks, detection of crop diseases, and gauging water pollution levels. Bengaluru based Pixxel aims to create a group of 30 earth observation satellites that will provide a complete 360 degrees global coverage by December 2022.

The PSLV-C51 mission will carry Amazonia-1 as its primary satellite which is Brazil’s earth observation satellite. Along with it, the rocket will carry along 20 co-passenger satellites which include an ISRO nanosatellite, 3 UnitySats, and another demonstration satellite by Pixxel.