Dubai engineering students to develop Rubik Cube size satellite for space exploration

The miniature device will be used to conduct science experiments and educational projects


Angel Tesorero

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Published: Sat 18 Mar 2023, 6:17 PM

Last updated: Sun 19 Mar 2023, 5:39 PM

A group of engineering students in Dubai is in the process of building a working CubeSat named Mahasat that will be launched in the next two years. This came following the recent signing of Memorandum of Understanding between BITS Pilani Dubai Campus (BPDC) and UAE-based Edutech4Space.

A CubeSat is a square-shaped miniature satellite – roughly the size of a Rubik Cube (10cm × 10cm ×10 cm) — weighing about 1kg that is used for science experiments and educational projects.

A CubeSat like Mahasat can be deployed as a single unit or in groups of multiple units (maximum of 24 units).

In a statement sent to Khaleej Times, BPDC said “Mahasat will include multiple advanced sensors and scientific instruments that will provide hands-on learning.

“The satellite will enable our students to develop an interdisciplinary approach geared towards a promising career for them in the engineering industries . Also , space industries are seeing a massive growth in recent years , and hence they have huge opportunities to become space engineers and future space entrepreneurs,” BPDC added.

According to BPDC, the creation of Mahasat will be overseen by Padma Shri-awardee Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, former director of Indian Space Research Organisation’s Satellite Centre. UAE’s online space education hub, Edutech4Space, in partnership with various institutions, will train and guide the BPDC students on the mission.

Small sat with big role

Explaining the rationale behind the name Mahasat, the school said the term ‘Maha’ in Sanskrit means ‘large’ – “and in keeping with this, the initiative hopes to impart big lessons on engineering and space exploration.”

The term ‘Al Maha’ meanwhile is another name for the Arabian Oryx, which is BPDC’s campus mascot and is considered a sign of endurance.

BPDC director Prof. Srinivasan Madapusi said: "We are excited to commence our new initiative, MAHASAT, that will accord BPDC a star role in space and satellite technology and education.”

Construction phase

Mahasat will be built in phases: First, a picosatellite (miniature satellite that is under 1kg) will be built and tested using drones. Next, the ground station at the BPDC campus will build an engineering model of Mahasat, constructed based off data collected in the field, and then the model will be further developed for final launch.

Shrisudha Viswanathan, founder and CEO of Edutech4Space, noted: “Edutech4Space plans to arm the new generation with information and skills required to excel in the new frontier of space technology, with hands-on training and guidance from educators at the top of their fields. We can’t wait to see the final product.”


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