Image:Rifath Sharook, CTO, Space Kidz India
On June 22, 2017, NASA launched the Terrier Orion sounding rocket from Virginia, USA. Thousands of miles away, in Chennai, a team of eager young scientists at Space Kidz India, kept their eyes peeled, following the launch closely. Onboard NASA’s rocket, was the world’s smallest satellite, KalamSat– a 64-gram cube named after former Indian President and nuclear scientist, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. As the rocket powered into space, these scientists, led by Rifath Sharook, cheered as they watched their achievement take off. The launch was the culmination of a journey that began with (no kidding) a thought of making a satellite of the size of a gulab jamun, an Indian sweetmeat.
Image:A team of young scientists at Space Kidz India
Rifath Sharook was born in the town of Pallapatti in Tamil Nadu, a few hours away from Chennai. He attributes his interest in science to his late father who was a scientist. “I spent most of my childhood playing in my father’s laboratory. I began my journey into technology when I was five, coding in BASIC on my father’s old computer.” From a young age, he loved learning and often went beyond his books, overcoming the challenges and obstacles in his path. “I lived in a small town where the internet connection was very slow. I used a small local library and my old computer to learn more about everything that was taught in school each day.” Then, tragedy struck as his father passed away. Rifath tells us how he was rudderless for some time. “After my dad’s demise, I was like an unguided missile. Then, luckily, Srimathy ma’am came into my life.”
Dr. Srimathy Kesan or ‘Srimathy ma’am’ as she is known to the Space Kidz India team, first met Rifath in 2012, when he, as a senior student journalist, was assigned an article about a newly founded space education company…continue reading in our magazine.