Chennai: European space agency Arianespace has got the nod to go ahead with the November 10 launch of Indian communication satellite GSAT-15 and Arabsat-6B, the agency said.
In a statement on Saturday, Arianespace said, the November 10 dual-passenger mission with Ariane 5 rocket, the spaceport in French Guiana got the authorisation after the Launch Readiness Review on November 6.
Planned during a 43-minute launch window that opens at 6:34 PM (local time in French Guiana), the Ariane 5 mission will have a total payload lift performance of 9,810 kg.
“This includes the two satellites’ mass at liftoff – 5,798 kg for Arabsat-6B and 3,164 kg. for GSAT-15 – along with launcher integration hardware and Ariane 5’s dual-passenger deployment system,” Arianespace said.
The Indian satellite GSAT-15 is designed to deliver telecommunications services, along with dedicated navigation-aid and emergency services, for India.
Built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), it will be the 19th payload launched by Arianespace for this customer – which is one of the world’s six largest space agencies.
The Indian satellite with a design life of 12 years will have 24 Ku-band transponders (automatic receivers and transmitters of radio signals) and two GAGAN (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation) transponders.
Reaching for the stars will no longer be impossible for girls and young women in Kyrgyzstan, who aim to build and launch the country’s first satellite before 2020.
A dozen budding female scientists have been tinkering with computers, 3-D printers and soldering irons since March to build a CubeSat, which U.S. space agency NASA describes as being the smallest and cheapest satellite used for space exploration.
“I feel very proud that it’s going to be the first satellite of the country. I’m doing this program because I want to empower other girls,” student Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova, 23, said during a Skype interview from the capital, Bishkek. “Your gender doesn’t have to determine what you have to do in this life.”
It is a rare path for any Kyrgyz, let alone a woman, given that nearly two-thirds of the people in the mountainous Central Asian country live in rural areas, and the economy relies on farming, according to the United Nations.
Women make up less than 10 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s graduates in science, technology, engineering, math, construction and manufacturing graduates, the U.N. Development Program says.
‘Not very common’
“Some girls don’t have the courage to pursue such studies because it’s not very common in our country, and the majority of parents discourage their daughters from pursuing this,” said Alina Anisimova, 19, who is leading the satellite project.
“I wish that in the future, people will not consider it so surprising to see young women who do welding or who are involved in engineering,” said the computer programmer.
She is one of the young women, aged 17 to 24, working on the project, which was started by Kloop Media, a local media group, after a chance meeting with senior NASA staff Alexander MacDonald, who suggested the ambitious idea.
According to Kloop’s crowdfunding page for the project, the construction and launch of Kyrgyzstan’s first CubeSat will cost up to $150,000. The final stages of the build will be made in partnership with a Lithuanian company.
“[Building a satellite] can serve as a powerful social and political signal,” MacDonald told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. He said it could send important messages about “who is able to participate and build the future.”
Even though the number of women in STEM has increased in recent years, they still account for only about 30 percent of the world’s researchers, the U.N cultural agency UNESCO says.
Aidana Aidarbekova, a 19-year-old student participating in the project, said girls and women in her country are expected to marry instead of pursuing careers.
“There are a lot of people who don’t believe that girls are capable of doing anything else but cleaning and cooking and giving birth to children,” said Aidarbekova.