Updated: Aug 17
Vikram-S, the first privately developed rocket made by India, was launched into outer space in a sub-orbital mission. It held two Indian payloads and one foreign one and was launched on the 18th of November, 2022 by Skyroot Aerospace with assistance from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at ISRO’s launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre and Space Kidz India also had important contributions. In addition, the FunSat, a payload developed by 160 students from India, the United States, UAE, Indonesia, Seychelles and Singapore through Space Kidz is also on board the Vikram S.
I am one of those lucky kids, selected by Space Kidz through AVS Academy. After joining, we learned about space missions and how they are conducted. We studied the different types of missions and their purposes, including sub-orbital missions. We were then introduced to the FunSat and its many capabilities of capturing data using its several sensors, like gyroscopes, magnetometers, and accelerometers. These sensors would later be used to capture data about temperature, humidity, pressure, gas, et cetera during the mission. We were then sent the chips that would go on board into the payload to capture and send data to earth. Space Kidz trained and immensely helped us in the effort of programming the chips.
Programming the chips took some time, and had to be done in a specific way, or it won’t work at all. It took me a few tries to get the program working through Arduino IDE, a software program. The programming was done on printed circuit boards (PCBs) and we made use of a programming library to work with. Once I finished, I shipped it back to the Space Kidz facility and waited eagerly for the launch of Vikram S.
When the mission was about to be launched, we eagerly waited and watched the mission live on Youtube. We were elated to learn that Vikram S had passed all the requirements for the mission, with our payload inside. After a few weeks, I received my certificate from Space Kidz for participating and being a part of their mission. Later, I heard that we were able to collect plenty of data from the FunSat.
Because Vikram S was a successful mission, reaching an apogee of 89.5 kilometers, it paved the way for more cost-efficient and affordable spaceflights and the Vikram 1 launch in 2023. It also made Skyroot the first Indian private company to reach outer space. It also allowed Space Kidz to test its onboard computer and other systems and algorithms. But more importantly, it is helping fuel the boom in the South Asian private space sector for more future endeavors like this one. I am honored to be able to participate in such an amazing achievement and I am grateful to Space Kidz India and AVS Academy for providing me with this opportunity.