In first of its kind, a nanosatellite will carry a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the names of 25,000 individuals to space by the end of February. Named Satish Dhawan Satellite or SD SAT (after one of the founding fathers of India's space programme) it will be launched by the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) and put into orbit.
According to a report in Hindustan Times, the nanosatellite is developed by SpaceKidz India, an organisation dedicated to promoting space science among students, it will also carry three scientific payloads - one to study space radiation, one to study the magnetosphere, and another that will demonstrate a low-power wide-area communication network. Developed by Indian startups it will be launched for the first time by ISRO after the government last year approved the creation of a new organisation, named IN-SPACe.
Dr Srimathy Kesan, founder and CEO of SpaceKidz India said, "When we finalised the mission, we asked people to send in their names that will be sent to space. And, within a week we received 25,000 entries. Of these, 1,000 names were sent in by people from outside India. There is a school in Chennai that sent in the names of everyone. We decided to do this because it will spark interest of the people in the mission and space science."
Following footsteps of other space missions that have carried holy books such as the Bible, ISRO took the decision to send a copy of Bhagwad Gita to space. Buzz Aldrin had taken the Bible with him in the Apollo 11 Lunar Module during landing on the Moon and became the first person to carry a copy on a heavenly body outside Earth.
The names of ISRO chairperson Dr K Sivan and scientific secretary Dr R Umamaheswaran have been engraved on the bottom panel.
We have also added the name and photograph of the Prime Minister on the top panel with the words Atmanirbhar mission, Kesan said.