Starting a Student Satellite Project

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This‌ ‌segment ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Satellite‌ ‌101‌ ‌Wiki‌ ‌has learnings that have been gained, passed on, and evolved over several generations of the team. These teachings have been written into the articles by Yash Sanghvi, Aniruddha Ranade, ‌Shaun Zacharia ,‌ ‌K‌ ‌T‌ ‌Prajwal‌ ‌Prathiksh,‌ Pranav Kasat‌, and Ritul‌ ‌Shinde.

More often than not, as soon as you start dreaming about your satellite orbiting the globe, reality hits you hard. You are bombarded with questions such as:

  • From where will you get the funds?
  • From where will you get the technical knowledge required to build a satellite?
  • How do you recruit team members who are as enthusiastic about satellite building as you are?
  • How will you get the required infrastructure?

and a lot more. Once reality poses these questions, many dreams die down without ever seeing the light of the day. While starting a project of this scale can be difficult, it is certainly not impossible. Several universities have done it. So remember you can do it too!
This wiki can help, to some extent, with the technical knowledge required for building a satellite. Funds could be obtained through various sources like university grants, sponsorships, Government grants etc. Coming to the other questions, we can provide some guidelines, which can be roughly segmented into the following:

However, it must be emphasised that funds usually come at a later stage, since it primarily depends on a lot of factors such as the strength of your idea (concept, feasibility, application, impact, etc.), the readiness of the team and the quality of your pitch. All of this probably leaves you with more questions such as:

  • How do you decide what kind of satellite to build and what it’s payload should be?
  • Even after the payload is decided, how do you go about realizing your satellite?
  • How complicated of a satellite will you be able to build when starting from scratch?
  • When will you know is the right time to start making a physical prototype/model?
  • How do you ensure that you’re not making a mistake in matters technical/non-technical over time?

These questions certainly seem daunting! However, it is essential that you ask these questions, since the answers, while being non-trivial, actually shape the ideologies which the team follows! This ultimately goes on to decide whether the team can eventually achieve the goal it had set for. We have compiled guidelines learnt over time, which tries to answer such questions asked by someone who has just set out to build a satellite. These questions can again be roughly categorised under the following:

If you are done reading the articles in this segment, you can go back to Satellite 101.