Pune: The stage is set approximately three years from now. The students of College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP)are gearing up for manoeuvring the next satellite with the help of solar sails without using any other mode of energy after the successful launch of their first-ever satellite ‘Swayam’ last year.
“Solar sails are also called as light sails or photon sails and are a form of spacecraft propulsion using radiation pressure exerted by sunlight on large mirrors. The demonstrations of orbit manoeuvring using the solar sail has been started and the concept is to use the solar energy,” said college professor and mentor for the programme Manisha Khaladkar.
Explaining its benefits, she said light from the sun continues striking the sail and the solar sail spacecraft enjoys the benefit of constant acceleration. “We have not given any name to this project as yet, but the prototype design will be ready within six months,” Khaladkar said.
“While the actual launch can be done in three years from now, but we have not got any such permission from Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the launch as of now,” she added.
The mission’s objective is to justify solar sails as an alternative means of space travel by manoeuvring from low earth orbit to a higher orbit and to collect useful scientific data during its journey as there has been no successful attempt of orbit raising in the Earth’s atmosphere with solar sails,” she said.
“This time we have adequate funds as we received Rs 50 lakh from Maharashtra government and Rs 20 lakh from ISRO,” she said adding that for ‘Swayam’ they had spent Rs 45 lakh.