Kalam-SAT Beta-1

I was reading this article about Kalam-SAT and it states that:

"Kalamsat fell into the sea. It will be recovered and NASA will be sending it back to us for decoding the data," [Srimathy Kesan, mission director] said.

For those unfamiliar, here's the wikipedia entry on the satellite.

My question is, how did this thing survive re-entry, then survive impact with the ocean, and then transmit its location with a strong enough signal to be found and recovered? If it was not an incorrectly stated tid-bit, does anyone have a more complete article, perhaps from a better source, that includes results of the mission?

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    $\begingroup$ It sounds more like PR Sat because it was never in orbit. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jul 25 '18 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ To be fair, it seems that future versions are planned to go to orbit, but all the press releases trumpeting "Smallest satellite EVAR!!111!!" got on my nerves. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jul 25 '18 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I cannot find mentions of a NASA-based article saying that this was ever a payload (using basic searches). I'd expect "kalamsat" inurl:nasa.gov would have something somewhere, but 0 results in quotes and only a handful of results with additional spellings. Did I just stumble upon fake news? $\endgroup$ – Magic Octopus Urn Jul 25 '18 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ This GSFC link talks about the launch sites.wff.nasa.gov/code810/news/story212%20RockOn%202017.html and this linked page has more info if you click the "2017 data and media" tab. spacegrant.colorado.edu/rockon-2017-registration Sounds like it was all run by Colorado Space Grant Consortium, NASA just provided and launched the vehicle. Strictly an educational thing - although a pretty cool one. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jul 25 '18 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble Personally, I think it was recovered, because NASA failing to recover something they promised to recover I would think would be newsworthy. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jul 25 '18 at 20:01

This article in ForbesIndia has what appears to be an adapted infographic showing the sounding rocket itself descending from apogee, deploying a parachute, and being recovered by the US Navy. The Wallops press release on the launch, which in NASA tradition was not trivial to search for, agrees:

The experiments, launch on a 36-foot long Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket, flew to an altitude of 72 miles and landed, via parachute, in the Atlantic Ocean. The payload has been recovered and the students are expected to receive their experiments this afternoon to begin their data analysis.

My guess is the satellite was contained, and recovered, as part of a monolithic payload.

Infographic showing "Kalmsat's Journey" including parachute and ocean recovery

A couple thoughts, since I found the process of getting this answer interesting:

  • Bing lets you apply a date range to the searches, making it easy to filter out the initial press blitz. This is the only time I have ever found Bing legitimately useful.
  • The blog post "From Gulabjamun to the Stars" appears to have post-launch pictures of the satellite (or a simulacrum?) At least one other blogger also claims to have seen Kalamsat post-return.

Though not images from that particular mission (and maybe not even of the same rocket type; I'm having trouble visually IDing sounding rocket pieces) I've found a LinkedIn post with pictures of a Wallops sounding rocket payload in the water and on a recovery boat.

  • $\begingroup$ The unprotected electronics of this satellite would not survive exposure to salt water very long. Especially if there is some charge left in the batteries. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Jul 25 '18 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe Concur. I don't think the tiny satellite was exposed on its own, but I can't find a source discussing those kind of specifics at this time. $\endgroup$ – Erin Anne Jul 25 '18 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ That sound you hear is Edward Tufte's head exploding. Look how the distance from the recovery point to Wallops is 4 times the distance from Wallops to Chennai, India. "Nice" graphic, Forbes. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jul 25 '18 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, Google also lets you apply a date range to searches. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jul 25 '18 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ Ahhh! This would make sense if it was part of a bigger payload,was basically just a scientific instrument on-board, had a parachute attached to the bigger payload, didn't go into a full-on orbit and had some sort of protection against the salt water/elements. Still an awesome experience for those folks, even if it was misconstrued a little bit in media, but what isn't to be honest. Thanks for finding the actual source on it. $\endgroup$ – Magic Octopus Urn Jul 26 '18 at 13:34

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