As Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C48) took off at 3.25 p.m. on Wednesday, three Israeli students waited with bated breadth at ISRO’s launch facility at Srikarikota.
Duchifat 3, a small remote sensing satellite weighing 2.3 kilogram, built by students from Sha’ar HaNegev High School and few other schools in collaboration with Herzliya Space Center (HSC) in Israel, was part of the nine commercial satellites launched by ISRO on Wednesday along with its own earth observation satellite.
“It was exciting to watch it live when our satellite got detached from the launch vehicle and was placed in the orbit,” said Alon Abramovich, a final year student from Sha’ar HaNegev High School.
Aviv Levi, another student involved in the project, who passed out of the school recently and is now with the Israeli Army as part of the mandatory military service, said that in less than 1.5 hours the satellite established successful contact with the ground room. “It was launched into the orbit somewhere above Australia. Soon it flew over Israel and started taking images,” he said.
The lauch of the satellite was the result of nearly three years of hardwork of around 60 students with the support of HSC and the Israeli Space Agency. “The satellite is named after Israel’s national bird Hoopoe (Duchifat in Hebrew). Two such satellites made by students were launched in the past by other agencies. However, Duchifat 3 is more ambitious,” said Ram Tamir, a teacher at Sha’ar Hanegev High School, who guided the students.
According to him, apart from being an experimentation project for the students, the images taken by the satellite is intended to help farmers in the region where the school is located. “We are functioning in rural part of Israel. We felt that the satellite should be of use to the community as well,” he said.
Meitav Assulin, another student, , said, “It is not common for high school level students from Israel to get involved in building satellites. We hope our project inspires more students to take part in such projects.”
The project was funded by ICA in Israel, a charitable organisation focussing mainly on agriculture and education related projects. Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen, its president, said that ISRO was chosen to launch the satellite because of its reliability and price. “The success rate of ISRO in launching satellites is impressive,” he said. Zeev Miller, Manager, ICA in Israel, said the project executed by the students with limited resources made it a great learning experience for them.