Dr Srimathy Kesan - The Inspiration Behind KalamSAT
With Indian space scientists enjoying tremendous success, a career in space science can be a meaningful and lucrative option.
By Arun Sharma
With scientific advancements, new career options are opening up in the field of space science. We talk to Dr Srimathy Kesan, Founder, CEO Space Kidz India, to find out what space science has to offer to children interested in the field.
PC: What prompted you to come up with the idea of setting up an institution that would promote science, especially space science?
SK: In India, most parents, cutting across various sections of the society, want their child to take up engineering and medicine as a career. I wanted to break that mindset because India needs more scientists—those who can be entrepreneurs as well. That’s why I focussed more on science, predominantly aerospace and aeroscience. Also, in our country, they aren’t given the importance they deserve, whereas space is the future and we need to work on that. So, I started Space Kidz India, wherein kids are given a lot of space – space above us, space within us and a platform. My vision is to build a world-class aerospace university with manufacturing and all the other amenities.
PC: Tell us about some unique projects that children in Space Kidz have taken up?
SK: Children of Space Kidz India (SKI) have developed a solar tractor and launched two satellites. The first was a balloon satellite in 2015, which is the first of its kind in India and finds mention in the Limca Book of Records. The second was KalamSAT, which was launched by NASA’s Wallops facility in Virginia. The launch of KalamSAT got us a great deal of recognition and appreciation from all over the globe. We have also designed a cube satellite, which would be launched from the United States. We have developed drones and are also working on desalination technology. We have also designed economical go-karts and a hybrid two-wheeler which runs on water as well as battery. In fact, there are quite a few projects that children in Space Kidz are working on.
At a personal level, I have designed numerous programmes to channel young minds towards space science. We have many students who wanted to take up mechanical engineering but now find that they are brilliant in space science. Thus, I have managed to sow the seeds of thought and innovation in children, which has boosted their confidence. SKI’s ‘Young Scientist’ programme aims to create and promote an awareness in students about science. Students can take part in the competition under various categories such as space, medicine, robotics, electrical / electronics, and environment. All that the students have to do is to design a project that is innovative and useful for the country.
PC: What do you look for in a child before you agree to guide her?
SK: The most important thing I look for in a child is passion. I don’t give much importance to whether the child is a winner or a topper. The child should have an undying passion for creating something unique and a never-give-up attitude. We select such children to be a part of a team – give the team a platform and projects, and thus the opportunity to create a difference in our country.
PC: It is the general impression that educating a child in space science is a costly affair. Is it possible for a child from an economically weaker background to pursue a career in space? How?
SK: It’s a myth that space science is costly. My team and I are working to make it as economical as possible. We have proven this with KalamSAT and also with our cube satellite, which has 27 sensors. I can’t recall any other satellite that flew with 27 sensors. This goes on to prove that there are economical ways of venturing into space. And, all our innovation and ideas can make this a pleasurable journey.
We are working on 3D technology, which makes our concept economically viable. So, gone are the days when space was considered unreachable. We are on our way towards making it reachable and affordable. Space is also the future and we are into everything related to space like space mining, space agriculture and space tourism. All these will create an AEROPRENEUR, who will be both a scientist and an entrepreneur. With regard to pursuing a career in space science, we are also stepping into designing and manufacturing of aero components, which will all be done by young college students. Hence, there is a bright future for children studying space science in India.
PC: What is your message to children, and their parents, who are interested in space science?
SK: Never take advice too seriously. Go by what your heart says. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE. Every crazy idea can be an innovation for the world. Our vision is to stop brain drain and develop our country.
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