BITS Pilani Dubai Campus (BPDC) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UAE-based Edutech4Space, whereby the school’s engineering students will build and launch a working satellite called Mahasat into orbit.
The creation of Mahasat will be overseen by Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, former director of ISRO Satellite Center and the scientist behind India’s successful missions to the Moon and Mars, often referred to as India’s moon man. Edutech4Space, the UAE’s online space education hub, will work with institutions across the globe to train and mentor BPDC students in this mission.
The satellite’s name, Mahasat, has special significance. In keeping with the Sanskrit word “Maha,” which means “big,” the initiative hopes to impart important lessons about engineering and development, space exploration, and even record-keeping. Meanwhile, the term “Al Maha” is another name for the Arabian oryx, the BPDC’s campus mascot and considered a symbol of endurance.
The program aims to impart engineering skills in the design, development, fabrication, integration, testing, launch and on-orbit control of pico-sats and cube-sats to students from different fields. These satellites are small, compact and lightweight, making them cost-effective platforms for scientific investigation and demonstration of new technologies.
In launching the Mahasat project, BPDC Director Prof. Srinivasan Madapusi said, “Mahasat will give BPDC a star role in space and satellite technology and education. Given its strong engineering foundation and “project-based experiential learning.” Students will be involved in all aspects of the program with strong support from Edutech4Space. The interdisciplinary nature of the field will have profound benefits for all involved. “
Mahasat will be built in stages; first, a pico-satellite will be built and tested using drones. Next, an engineering model of the CubeSat will be established after the ground station at the BPDC campus, constructed from data collected on site, and then the model will be further developed for eventual launch.
Shrisudha Viswanathan, Founder and CEO of Edutech4Space, said: “The Mahasat project comes at an exciting time – at a time when the UAE is entering space research with missions such as the UAE Mars mission and the Rashid rover. Hands-on training and mentoring from top educators, giving a new generation the information and skills they need to excel in the new world of space technology. We can’t wait to see the final product.” — trade arab news agency