Chandrayaan 2: Racing against time, meet the ISRO women scientists set to script history!

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Published: July 14, 2019 8:18:14 AM

Notably, the two leading ISRO scientists, Vanitha and Ritu, are in their 40s, but their work experience with ISRO spans more than 20 years.

Officials carry out the hoisting of the Vikram Lander during the integration of Chandrayaan-2, at the launch center in Sriharikota. (Source: ISRO)

Chandrayaan 2: Chandrayaan-2 is an incredible, true story of India’s women racing against time and rising to script history in its biggest ever space mission! India’s second lunar exploration mission is all set to launch on July 15 and it is bound to script history as the space mission in the country to be wholly headed by ISRO’s women scientists! You are already familiar with iconic names of India’s ISRO women scientists such as N Valarmathi, credited with heading RISAT-1, which is the country’s first indigeneously developed radar imaging satellite and Tessy Thomas, who has been hailed as India’s ‘missile woman’ who had headed the Agni IV as well as the Agni V mission. What a moment of pride for the nation as ISRO’s women scientists are now gearing up to script history with the launch of Chandrayaan-2!

Indeed, this marks a laudable achievement for India’s space mission achievement. In fact, Dr. K Sivan, ISRO chairman, has already shared that 30 per cent of the Chandrayaan-2 team comprise of women.

Notably, the two leading ISRO scientists, Vanitha and Ritu, are in their 40s, but their work experience with ISRO spans more than 20 years.

An expert data cruncher and problem solving scientist, M. Vanitha is ISRO’s first woman project director, significantly for this landmark space mission to the moon. The role involves working for more than eighteen hours and handling a host of other pressures, given the national ramifications and handling challenges when being in the public limelight. Notably, Vanitha has been featured by a well-known global science journal ‘Nature’ in its list of scientists to watch this year.

A mother of two, who is also referred to as one of the country’s ‘rocket women’, Ritu Karidhal calls herself a simple girl from Lucknow. She had stars in her eyes way before anyone would have guessed that she would begin her career as an aerospace engineer at ISRO. Her inspiring Ted talk touched upon the challenges of ‘how India went to Mars’ conveyed the challenges that she had to tackle – the time frame of eighteen months to ensure the completion of the mission, which propelled her into dynamic action as she had very little time to lose. Significantly, she has highlighted in her talk that the support of family members is one of the key facets that can go a long way to support the achievements of women scientists in space.

READ: How ISRO’s inspirational stories are becoming Bollywood’s new source of scripts

Balancing the complexities of professional life and family duties do not necessarily distance women scientists from achieving their full potential in a realm that is literally ‘rocket science’ to most people including the common man!

Notably, Ritu Karidhal has been the recipient of several prestigious awards including the ISRO Team Award for MOM, Women Achievers in Aerospace, among others.

In a first for ISRO’s biggest space mission, the message is loud and clear – women scientists are in charge of the country’s biggest space mission. Here’s wishing more power and continuous success to India’s inspiring ‘space stars’ and the initiatives they lead for the country’s space mission!

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