How often does it happen that people hold on to their dreams till they have achieved it, enduring all the ups and downs? Well, here is a story of patience and passion that inspires us on many levels. One project, eight years and participation of more than 250 students! SWAYAM has earned it all and so have the minds behind it.
The success story of SWAYAM is orbiting the earth with a great velocity. What started with a mere support to a fellow institute,turned into a fully fledged research and development mission. It all started 8 years ago, when the students of IIT Bombay approached students of the Astronomy Club of COEP, seeking help to build a groundstation to track their student satellite Pratham.
The students from Astronomy Club were struck by an idea to build their own satellite. Soon the idea was fetched to the professors and management. After continuous discussions and meetings, the team ofSWAYAM reached to a conclusion where they decided to build 1U satellite which could be used for two way communication between small vessels in sea which needs support or rescue and ground station situated at COEP and from there the information could be given to nearest port and rescue can be arranged. After rigorous brainstorming sessions and securing approval and financial assistance from COEP for the project, the team was able to attain conceptual design review and permission from ISRO to proceed with the project by 2010. The subsequent years saw gradual but substantial developments in the project.
In the journey to space, the team of SWAYAM ventured many star moments.First was when the team was successful in establishing the base station at COEP in 2012. The preliminary design review was successfully cleared by CSAT team at ISRO the next year. Nishchay Mhatre, the project manager in the early years, not only presented two papers at 62nd IAC conference, he is the first Indian to win Luigi Napolitona award. The consecutive years brought great opportunities for the students to participate in various national and international conferences. Every year the team climbed a step closer to the destination.
The nano-satellite built has a volume of 1000cc, weighs one kilogram with cube dimensions being 10cm*10cm*11.35cm. SWAYAM has been installed with sub systems namely, Power, Onboard Computer, Structure and thermal management, Communication and Attitude Control System. What makes the nano- satellite one of its kind in India is its Passive Attitude Control System.
The team was supported by eminent personalities from renowned organizations. Constant visits, lectures and reviews by experts like Dr. Vedachalan and Dr. Madhav Dhekne from VSSC, Dr. Raghav Murthy from ISAC and Mr. Pramod Kale and Dr. Anant Patki from ISRO helped the team to pave their way to success. The students got an opportunity to explore their limits, increase their knowledge and gain wider perspectives while doing this project.
The project saw a participation of more than 250 students. Since 2009 every year new students were selected to join the team of SWAYAM. The selection involved preliminary screening, personal interview and a small problem statement involving practical component. The selected interns were given series of presentations by the senior students about all the subsystems and work done by earlier team.
The whole project would not have been possible without the support of the faculty. The faculty at COEP walked alongside of the team throughout the journey, providing necessary guidance and the finances. In a government aided institutions, it is rarely seen that the students have brought such credibility to the research work at academic level, as they lack resources and encouragement from the institution itself.
SWAYAM witnessed a huge participation. A break less effort that the students continued to put for 8 years has payed off really well. The nano member of COEP, SWAYAM was launched on 22nd June 2016 by ISRO. “We weren’t expecting the project touched the lives of the students at COEP in many ways. Priya Ganadas, a member of the founder batch says, "I had the privilege to be part of the founding team for COEP's Satellite Initiative. The founding team for COEP's Satellite Initiative was group of close knit, enthusiastic like minded friends. We met each other at COEP’s Astronomy Club which I consider the very reason for existence of the satellite initiative. Knowing each other’s morale and work ethic, it was easier for us to function as a team and to collectively commit to a far in future, seemingly difficult goal - designing and building a satellite at COEP".
It was not just an opportunity for one to explore one's creative mind or develop innovative approach but also a chance to learn team work. Students, who hardly interacted, came together with diverse ideas and enthusiasm. The launch of SWAYAM was a thrilling experience for these young minds. SWAYAM is a reflection of the huge potential that India harbours. The satellite speaks for the creative souls that are just looking for an opportunity to give the world something to be proud of. SWAYAM has made a history and its creators are on the way of making many more.
From The BUILDERS!!!!
An institution is indeed a place where people come together with the sole intention to gather knowledge and reproduce the knowledge in a practical form. SWAYAM is one such episode of the process from gathering to reproducing. While the brains got nurtured by knowledge, the hearts shared deep feelings of friendship, togetherness, inspiration and trust.
SWAYAM was not an easy deal for these brilliant minds. Setbacks, stagnant moments and disappointment were as much part of the journey as the success. Many a times it took days for the students to overcome the hindrances and solve the problems at hand.
"More than once I think! There have been days in testing that nothing worked at all and we had to face disappointment. We had a strong documentation system, so if we went bad a particular step, we would go back a step and scrutinise the mistake and try to rectify it" says Umair.
Talking of the satellite, what the students admire about the satellite is the friendly, low cost nature of it. "One normally uses high conducting alloys for the antennas but what we used was a regular carpenter's measuring tape", chuckled the dexterous kids.
The passed out students were still a part of the project. Each one of them stood by the newcomers, supporting and guiding them through the difficult times. The passion for SWAYAM never died and all the seniors acted as a solid pillar to the newbie researchers.
The D Day!
After a wait of eight long years and real ocean boiling process, the day had finally arrived when the makers of SWAYAM gather at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota to see their success touch the sky and establish itself in the endless space. Quickening heartbeats and enormous applauds had filled the space.“After about 45 minutes we heard the first beacon, all of
us got really excited, even the seniors who had joined us for the launch”, said Manasi.
There is no stopping for those who starve for learning. After SWAYAM , the students of COEP have geared up for a new project, CSAT2. The mission objective is to justify solar sails as an alternative means of space travel by manoeuvering from low earth orbit to a higher orbit and to collect useful scientific data during its journey.
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