Using 3D printer technology, a teenage scientist in India designed and built what may turn out to be the world’s tiniest space cube!
Rifath Sharook, 18, won the Cubes in Space design competition and will see his tiny-yet-technologically advanced creation blast into space on June 22, if things go as planned. Cubes in Space is sponsored by idoodlelearning along with the Colorado Space Grant Consortium with help from NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and Sounding Rocket Program Offices.
The frame of the space cube is strong and incredibly light. What makes it special, according to Rifath, is that he produced it with a 3D printer using carbon fiber. “It will have a new kind of on-board computer and eight indigenous built-in sensors to measure acceleration, rotation and the magnetosphere of the Earth,” Rifath writes.
Amazingly, the young scientist was able to build all this into a tiny cube that weighs 64 grams (that’s just 2.26 ounces). The cube will be part of the payload of NASA’s next mission—a suborbital rocket lifting off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
The Cubes in Space Challenge started in 2014 and is for young scientists 11–18. Since its start, more than 5,000 have participated representing 57 countries. Rifath is off to a strong start in science—he works as a lead scientist for Space Kidz India, which promotes science education for young people. He named his cube KalamSat after Abdul Kalam, former president of India and a nuclear scientist who strongly supported the country’s aerospace programs. KalamSat will operate for 12 to 15 minutes during the flight.