On September 26, IIT Bombay would begin a new era by becoming first Indian university to launch its own satellite i.e. designed and developed by the students of IIT-Bombay themselves.
Pratham, name of the satellite which means first, is unique for various reasons. First and foremost, it has been designed indigenously by 6 students who worked at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Bengaluru for the pre-launch of the satellite. The unprecedented fact that the satellite mission has been student-led, which is the first time in the country’s history, makes it a seminal event for the institution which recently had not fared too well in the rankings of the world universities. And though the rankings had placed it in the 351-400 group, that has not deterred IIT-B in attaining new milestones.
The satellite mission was carefully guided and monitored by ISRO and had been in making since 2007, when the project was launched. The momentous event has however not been totally smooth and there were moments of failures and debacles along as well. Pratham was scheduled to be launched in 2012 but had lost on the deadline due to administrative hassles and technical glitches. It took another 4 years for the project to recover from the setback and be ready for launch in 2016.
The satellite would be launched by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in its 37th flight at an altitude of 720 km for the measurement of ‘electron count’. The entire expense of the mission has been borne out by ISRO including the facilities of testing. This has been one of the most important factors which led to fruition the toiling and labour of the 6 students from IIT-B. The entire team included 7 batches of students who had worked throughout these years for the fulfillment of the mission.
Even the foremost space organisation of the country, which has already added several laurels to its cap in past few years due to its unimpeded rate of successful launches and discoveries, has lauded the mission in clear and roaring applause. ISRO itself is proud to be launching a satellite by the efforts of students.
The project was the brainchild of Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay and Shashank Tamaskar, students from the Aerospace department of IIT-B who envisioned it in July 2007, after which a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with ISRO in September 2009 and later extended in 2014.
Pratham would be launched at 9:12 am, on September 26 from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota and once placed, would help in tsunami warnings and GPS error handlings. The entire project is estimated at around Rs. 1.5 crore.