What inspired you to come up with the idea of setting up Spacekidz? What are your achievements so far from inception?
In the year 2009, I helped my friend who was running a travel agency in Chennai for 2-3 hours a day. During a travel conference, I ran into my old friend Ms. Reema Sisodia, an NCC camp mate who represented RDC from the Maharashtra directorate. That month-long camp in Delhi made us close friends. Reema who worked as an editor in Travel Express, motivated me to become an entrepreneur and also proposed my name for an international travel conference at Florida (USA), in February 2009. That fully paid trip changed the life of me for good. “I felt great to represent India at the two day meet in the US. I enjoyed being one of the 10,000 delegates and there were 3,600 booths at the conference, “but, the booth of NASA was what captured my eyes”.
After 16 years of married life, being at home as a complete home maker, entrepreneurial bug stung me in the year 2009 and i gave birth to “Space Kidz India”, but, as a “Homepreneur “, to take children from India to NASA, KSC – USA for a Scientific educational travel. There was nothing as Space education, Space travel, or anything to do with Space in India in the private sector or schools/ Universities during that period, this gap initiated/ instigated me to work on filling that gap. I faced a lot of challenges initially as I found it hard to convince parents to send their kids to the US. Paperwork and processing US visas for children was equally challenging. Despite the challenges, I managed to mobilize as many as 108 children from 8th to 12th standard in the 12-16 years age group. My first delegation of children for NASA left on April 27, 2010, “it’s the 13th anniversary of our maiden trip and my entry to entrepreneurship. “I was adorned with the Ambassador status to the top 3 research centres of the World, “NASA, ESA, and GCTC – Russia, subsequently.
I did not stop with taking children I looked beyond the blue sky and got ambitious to launch Satellites and build Rockets. “Space Kidz India” (SKI), was officially born (registered as a partnership company in 2016 January 2016), is an Indian Aerospace Startup pioneering in the design, fabrication and launch of small satellites, spacecraft and ground systems. The goal of SKI is to provide economic and sustainable access to space to cater to the needs of education, research and industry. With 7+ years of experience, SKI has launched 18+ BalloonSats, 3 Suborbital Payloads and 4 Orbital Satellites.
Since its inception, SKI, my brainchild, has touched millions of young minds and will continue to impact future generations in a positive manner. I has been showered with many awards, and has been frequently nominated as a “Pioneer” in the field of “Space Education” and awarded as the “Pride of India”. I has also won other awards as a “Social entrepreneur” and “Woman Achiever”.
SKI has received wide international attention, and found mentions in the Asia Book of Records, URF Book of Records, India Book of Records, Assist Book of Records, and Official World Record, in addition to recognition from Space Agencies, schools, colleges, universities, and political party’s world over.
What are the challenges & opportunities you see in the space industry?
Challenges are the costs involved as Space by default is an extremely expensive industry to deal with. Launching satellites, building rockets, and conducting research missions all require significant financial investments. Regulations and Policy in the space industry operates within a complex framework of national and international regulations. Navigating these legal and policy landscapes can pose challenges, especially as new technologies and commercial players emerge. Historically, space access has been limited to a few government agencies and large corporations. Expanding access to space for smaller companies and nations can be challenging due to the high costs and technological barriers involved. Licensing is yet another huge challenge Space Debris with the increasing number of satellites and space missions, the issue of space debris has become a significant concern. Managing and mitigating space debris is crucial to ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities.
Opportunities are Exploration and Research, Space offers immense potential for scientific discovery and exploration. Missions to other planets, studying asteroids and comets, and discovering new celestial phenomena can expand our knowledge of the universe and advance scientific understanding. The growing interest from private companies in space presents opportunities for commercialization. Companies can develop satellite-based services, space tourism, asteroid mining, and other innovative business models. Satellites provide valuable data for Earth observation, including climate monitoring, disaster management, agriculture, and urban planning. Analyzing this data can lead to advancements in various sectors and contribute to solving global challenges. Advances in space technology often have spin-off benefits for other industries. Technologies developed for space exploration, such as lightweight materials, solar panels, and miniaturized electronics, can find applications in fields like healthcare, transportation, and energy.
It’s important to note that the space industry is rapidly evolving, and new challenges and opportunities may arise as technology progresses and new players enter the sector.
How are the various programmes currently offering by Spacekidz?
Space Kidz India is focussed on:
● Designing and manufacturing of Cube SAT, Nano SAT and Micro SAT’s * Working on economical way to reach the Moon is the next project
● Designing and launching of Balloon SAT’s
● Launchpad facility for launching balloon satellites
● SKI LABZ- It is the training wing of Space Kidz India, creating new curriculum and learning programs for students across the globe to change the way we learn.
● Science awareness camps / Astro camps / Astrobiology camps and Rocketry
Are you seeking any support from state or central government to reach more no of students or schools?
By securing financial support from the government, organizations like ours could expand their reach, enhance the quality of space education, and provide opportunities for aspiring students to engage with and excel in the field of space science and technology. Funds could be utilized to establish or improve infrastructure and resources required for space education. This may include setting up dedicated space education centers, procuring educational materials, equipment, or developing interactive online platforms for distance learning. Additional funds could support the expansion of outreach programs that aim to reach a larger number of students and schools. This could include organizing workshops, competitions, and educational events focused on space science and technology.
Government funding can support research and innovation projects in the space education domain. This could include grants for student-led research initiatives, encouraging innovation in space-related technologies, and fostering collaboration between academia and industry. Space is to work hands on and if government can help give free launch in the POEM (4th stage of the rocket), for hands on experience of reaching Space i think this will create “out of the box”, among students and this could pave way for new start up’s in the Country and enhance our economy.
Can you talk about the small satellite-launch market? How is it looking for you? Can we expect anything from Spacekidz?
The small satellite-launch market has experienced significant growth and development in recent years. Small satellites, also known as CubeSats or nanosatellites, have become increasingly popular due to their compact size, lower costs, and versatile applications. This has led to a demand for dedicated launch services tailored to these smaller payloads. Several companies have emerged to address this market, offering dedicated small satellite launch services.
There is no private space organization in India which has launched as many ballonsats & satellites as we have launched. Also the first to build and launch the world’s smallest satellite. Standing unique in the country with innovative space solutions and missions. Staying innovative, bringing youth together from across the globe with no boundaries and making the impossible possible is our USP I would say. Yes, Space Kidz India has entered and been working on the Small satellites since its inception. We look forward to catering to the Industry needs and moving forward into deep space missions.
Would you elaborate on your association with schools and industry? What are the advantages of such an association?
Collaborations between schools and industry allow students to access real-world applications of their learning. Industry professionals can provide insights into current practices, challenges, and emerging trends, enriching students’ understanding of their subject matter. Associations with schools to incorporate practical training and skill development into their curriculum. This hands-on experience helps Students Bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, making them more industry-ready.
Industry associations can provide Space Kidz India with access to resources, equipment, and facilities that may not be readily available otherwise. This could include access to laboratories, experimental setups, and industry-standard software or hardware, enabling students to gain hands-on experience and enhance their learning outcomes.
Collaborations with industry allow Spacekidz to establish connections with professionals, experts, and mentors. These connections can provide mentorship opportunities, career guidance, and potential pathways for internships or job placements for students who aspire to pursue careers in the space industry.
Associations with the industry can increase the visibility of Space Kidz India and its students within the space community. This can lead to potential career opportunities, internships, or project collaborations with industry partners, enhancing the students’ prospects and opening doors for further advancement in their chosen field.
What is your message to youngsters, schools, parents who wish to choose space as their career?
If you have a genuine interest and curiosity about space, pursue it wholeheartedly. The space industry offers a wide range of opportunities, from engineering and astrophysics to mission operations and satellite technology. Find your area of interest and immerse yourself in it. A solid foundation in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is crucial for a career in space. Dedicate yourself to your studies, excel in these fields, and consider pursuing higher education in relevant disciplines to deepen your knowledge and skills.
Take advantage of internships, workshops, and programs offered by space organizations, universities, and research institutions. These experiences will provide hands-on exposure, practical skills, and networking opportunities in the space industry.
Space is an interdisciplinary field that combines various disciplines, including physics, engineering, computer science, and more. Develop a broad skill set and be open to learning from diverse fields. This will enable you to tackle complex challenges and contribute to different aspects of space exploration and technology.
The space industry is constantly evolving, and new opportunities are emerging. Don’t be afraid to dream big and set ambitious goals. Whether it’s contributing to human space exploration, developing innovative satellite technologies, or studying the mysteries of the universe, your passion and dedication can make a difference.
Remember, a career in space offers not only the chance to contribute to scientific and technological advancements but also the opportunity to explore the unknown and inspire future generations. Embrace the wonder of space, pursue your dreams, and be part of shaping the future of space exploration and discovery.
What is your ultimate goal in next 5-10 years?
My ultimate goal is to lay the foundation for a World renowned Space University with a manufacturing port in India apart from building a “Space research park” (very near future) that can kindle the interest of every child who wishes to pursue Space. In simple terms “a miniature version of NASA”. This would mean economically experiencing the simulations, zero gravity and the cutting edge technologies available in the current which will instigate a child/ researcher to think beyond rather than travelling to NASA, ESA or GCTC – which though I am the Only Indian Ambassador, wish to keep everything within India and attract students / researchers from Countries around us. This is a huge business model for our Country apart from what it looks as a simple Space Education providing space.