The Pratham Satellite

'Pratham' was the first satellite under IIT Bombay Student Satellite Program. The plan was to build a fully functional microsatellite which would then be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This was entirely a student initiative with mentorship provided by ISRO scientists and IIT Bombay Faculty. The satellite was able to fit in a 30.5cm X 33.5cm X 46.6cm cube and weighed 10.15kg. excluding FE Ring.

SolidWorks rendering of Pratham satellite
Old logo of Student Satellite Program IITB

For the relevance of the satellite to the student community, the satellite data was transmitted when the satellite passed over India. Hence, any interested university with a small ground station was not only able to detect the beacon signal from our satellite, but was also able to measure TEC above their ground station. This was proposed to spread awareness among the student community about this exciting field. The Pratham project presented a wonderful learning experience of working on a real life multidisciplinary complex system to the students.

Mission Statement of Pratham

Pratham had a four-fold mission statement:

  • Enabling students and faculty to gain knowledge and experience in the field of satellite and space technology
  • Empowering the Satellite Team with the skills to develop the satellite through various phases of Design, Analysis, Fabrication and Testing until the Flight Model is made
  • Launching the satellite into orbit and measuring Total Electron Count of the Ionosphere
  • Involving students from other universities in our satellite mission by building ground stations in their universities

The Pratham Project presented a wonderful learning experience of working on a real life multidisciplinary complex system to the students. Learning enhancement through CDIO (Conceiving – Designing – Implementing – Operating) was one of the major objectives of this project. Since learning was a vital part of the project, it was duly visible in the success criterion for the Mission.

Success of the Mission

Flight Model ready
Beacon Signal Recieved
TEC Measurements at IITB
Satellite Functional for 4 months

Tracking Pratham

Frequency 145.98 MHz 437.455 MHz
Modulation CW Morse code FSK, AX.25
Data rate 35 wpm 1200 bps
EIRP 23 dbm 18 dbm
Region transmitted over Whole World India and France

Technical Details at a Glance

Mission Objective To estimate Total Electron Count(TEC) over India and Paris with a resolution of 1km x 1km location grid
Payload Instrument Two monopole antennas transmitting at 145.98 MHz and 437.45 MHz
Structure Dimensions: 30.5cm X 33.5cm X 46.6cm
Mass: 10.15 kg
Side panels: Aluminum alloy (Al 6061)
Monopoles: 3
Sensors and Actuators GPS, Magnetometer, Sun-sensors, Magnetorquers
RF Communication Transmission in the Amateur Band
Antennas: 3 Monopoles- Uplink (UHF), Downlink (UHF) and Beacon (VHF)
Altitude 670 Km
Downlink Frequency 437.455MHz and 145.98MHz
Uplink Frequency 437.455 MHz
Power source Li-ion battery and 4 solar panels
Orbit Polar sun-synchronous, 670 km
Mission Life 4 months