India’s SAT Girls who built AZAADISAT-2

750 girl students from across India had built the AzaadiSAT-2 satellite which was put in the orbit by SSLV-D2.

Sathyavani a class eleven student and who’s father is a bus conductor turned emotional as she watched SSLV lift off in front of her eyes at Satish Dhawan Space Centre’s large viewers gallery in Sriharikota on Friday. She has played a little role in the making of AzaadiSAT-2, one of the  three satellites the rocket successfully put in the orbit. She told “I want to become a Space Scientist. My inspiration is  like Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams”. 

In another part of the gallery, Nishat Anjom, a class VIII student from a school in Karnataka too made up her mind to pursue space science. Her father is an automobile mechanic. Nishat said “When the rocket blasted off I was inspired to launch my own satellite sometime”.
The project  involving 750 girls from school across India, largely from government schools from Kashmir to Kanniyakumari began last year as part of ISRO’s (Indian Space Research Organisation) launch of SSLV (Small Satellite Launch Vehicle) which failed in its maiden mission. However Space Kidz India the private organisation behind this project continued it till successful completion  this year. All students were connected online for lessons, training and  exercises.  
AzaadiSAT -2 is a communication satellite that also tests a  new “expandable satellite structure” technology. Girl students  learnt the basics of space, satellite and rockets besides sensors that were placed on the board. They also worked on coding used for satellites and uploaded their programming on to the satellite’s board. “We can see the temperature, humidity and pressure. By rubbing our hands and touching the sensor we could see the variation on the monitor” said B Aksharani a class XI student from the Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Thirumangalam in Madurai.  
For many girl children the successful mission after a failure strengthened their self belief and confidence. “Girls can achieve anything. That’s our message. We need more such opportunities for rural children” said Christy from Nehru High School.
Teachers are excited. This was a learning experience for them too. Karnan, Head Teacher of Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Thirumangalam said “Children from rural areas normally would not get this kind of opportunity”. His colleague Cynthia added “Earlier children did not understand space science. Now many want to study space science”. Another teacher from a  Chennai school said “This has changed the mindset of our students”. 
Dr Srimathy Kesan, the Founder of Space Kidz India has already guided several student groups in building satellites. Excited about this mission, she says “These girls have seen how their hard work could bring success even after a failure. Space technology is the future and these girls would now turn disruptors. The experience would change their personality. From them hundreds of children would develop interest towards space science”. On what’s her next mission, “We now want to be part of a moon mission” Srimathy beams with confidence.

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