India launches pint-sized satellite designed by students

The Indian Space Research Organization launches the miniature satellite Kalamsat V2, built at a cost of 1.2 million rupees, with other payload at the Sriharikota space center in southern Andhra Pradesh state on Thursday. (AFP)
Updated 25 January 2019

India launches pint-sized satellite designed by students

  • The 10-centimeter cube satellite, named Kalamsat V2, weighs just 1.2 kilograms
  • The launch was another feather in the cap for the Indian Space Research Organization

SRIHARIKOTA, India: A lightweight satellite designed by students that can be held in the palm of the hand has been launched by Indian scientists, burnishing the country’s credentials in miniature design technology.
The 10-centimeter (four-inch) cube satellite, named Kalamsat V2, weighs just 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds), according to students from the private Space Kidz India group who designed the celestial unit.
It was launched from the Sriharikota space center in southern Andhra Pradesh state on Thursday, drawing praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Heartiest congratulations to our space scientists for yet another successful launch of PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle). This launch has put in orbit Kalamsat, built by India’s talented students,” Modi tweeted.
The launch was another feather in the cap for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which won Asia’s race to Mars in 2014 when one of its spacecrafts reached the Red Planet on a shoestring budget.
India has been vying for a larger slice of the booming commercial satellite launch business as phone, Internet and other companies seek expanded and more high-end communications.
The Kalamsat V2 was built at a cost of 1.2 million rupees ($16,900), said Srimathy Kesan, the CEO and founder of Space Kidz India.
It will serve as a communications satellite for ham radio transmissions used by amateurs for non-commercial activities.
In 2017 an even smaller satellite, weighing just 64 grams and designed by the same group, was launched in the US aboard a NASA rocket, but never reached orbit.
The main payload on Thursday’s launch was the 740-kilogram Microsat-R that will be used to take high-resolution photos of Earth for defense research.
India has made giant strides in its space journey, launching a record 104 satellites in a single mission in 2017. It has also built a reputation as a reliable low-cost option for space exploration.


Saudis turn to technology for Eid gatherings

Updated 24 May 2020

Saudis turn to technology for Eid gatherings

  • Family gatherings or not, the use of video-calling applications is keeping families close and loved ones even closer

JEDDAH: Many special Eid-related traditions have been broken this year as families are forced to stay home because of coronavirus restrictions. But technology has come to the rescue with many relying on video calls to bring family members and loved ones closer. 

Eid Al-Fitr is the occasion Saudis look forward to most — attending Eid prayers at the neighborhood mosque, wearing new clothes, the scent of frankincense around the home, and gathering with cousins at grandparents’ houses decked out with lights and decorations to mark the joyous occasion. 

As the Kingdom endures a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), many Saudis are refusing to allow the pandemic to break their spirits during Eid. Family gatherings or not, the use of video-calling applications is keeping families close and loved ones even closer.

Among those keeping Eid traditions alive, 27-year-old Mohammed Khayat has found a way to connect with his family who live outside Jeddah. Using Zoom, a popular videoconference platform, he has created a fun competition with family members. 

“There will be two boxes; one with easy questions, the other one with difficult questions. An example from the first box would be ‘act out a song, and if someone guessed it right, you win.’ Or ‘When was Jeddah founded?’ or ‘Who is the 17th grandson of my grandmother?’” he told Arab News.

Khayat highlighted the bright side of Eid during the pandemic with everyone available for a virtual gathering.

“It’s going to be fun, because not all family members are usually present in most of our Eid celebrations at the same time. Many live in different cities or even outside the Kingdom. Yes, it’s going to be online, but it’s a great chance for everyone to gather at the same time.”

Lujain Al-Jehani, 26, plans to put on her best clothes and enjoy Eid despite the global despair.

“We’re going to wear our Eid clothes, dress up, put makeup on, and do our hair and nails. We’re cleaning the house and preparing everything as we always do in Eid, but we’re not expecting any guests this year. It’s just us family together,” she told Arab News.

Before the pandemic, Al-Jehani usually spent Eid with her cousins, often spending the entire day at her grandmother’s house to enjoy the festivities. This year, Al-Jehani said that she and her family will keep their spirits high because “it’s still Eid.”

“I’m going to be spending quality time with my family at home. We will play boardgames, listen to music, have breakfast together and hang some Eid decorations. We want to do our Eid traditions within our family because it’s still Eid. We’ll enjoy spending Eid with our family. Thank God, we’re in good health and we’re together.”