A microsatellite developed by IIT-Bombay is scheduled for launch next month by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.

Called Pratham, the satellite has been in the pipeline for 9 years. The project was started by IIT-B's Aerospace Department students, Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay and Shashank Tamaskar in July 2007. Starting work in a bigger team in January 2008, they completed various tests last year.

ISRO will now launch Pratham along with its main satellite, ScatSat, and several other satellites on board a four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

IIT Bombay's Pratham satelite Figure 1: Pratham will measure the Total Electron Content of the ionosphere over India to help alert for tsunamis and improve GPS accuracy.  

Pratham, which weighs 10kg, will be placed at an altitude of 720km. Its mission duration of 4 months will comprise measuring the electron count of the ionosphere. This information can be used for tsunami alerts and to increase the accuracy of GPS. The Total Electron Content (TEC) of the ionosphere over India will help correct for propagation effects in communications. The cost of achieving this is about ₹1.50 crore.

Pratham sits in a cleanroom at the ISRO Satellite Centre, Bengaluru, awaiting the exact launch date.