Women scientists of Chandrayaan mission are role models for many

ISRO has given opportunity to a number of women scientists who have worked shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. The field of space exploration continues to see more women breaking barriers and making their mark in space science, writes Pawan Kumar Bansal

Indian women have made significant contributions to space exploration. Kalpana Chawla, for example, was the first woman of Indian origin to go into space and flew on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997.

In addition to Kalpana Chawla, there have been other Indian women who have made notable contributions to space exploration like Sunita Williams. Born in the United States to Indian parents, Sunita Williams is a NASA astronaut. She has spent a total of 321 days in space, including long-duration missions on the International Space Station (ISS). She’s known for her achievements in spacewalks and her passion for science communication.

ISRO has given a break to a number of women scientists who have worked shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts and excelled in their chosen fields. The field of space exploration continues to see more women breaking barriers and making their mark in space science and engineering. All Chandrayaan missions, like other space missions, are a collaborative effort involving scientists, engineers, and professionals from diverse backgrounds, including women. While specific contributions of women to the Chandrayaan-3 mission might not be publicly highlighted, it’s important to recognize that women have been playing significant roles in India’s space program. Their involvement reflects the broader progress in gender equality and empowerment.

Over the years, women empowerment in space research in India has been steadily increasing. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has made efforts to encourage and support the participation of women in various roles within the field. Women scientists and engineers have held key positions, from research and development to project management.

ISRO has been actively working on promoting gender diversity and inclusivity within its workforce. They have implemented policies to provide equal opportunities and support for women employees, along with initiatives to create a conducive work environment. This has led to more women participating in space research, not only in India but also internationally.

The success stories of women scientists like Dr. Tessy Thomas, often referred to as the “Missile Woman of India,” and Ritu Karidhal, the Deputy Operations Director of the Mars Orbiter Mission, serve as inspirations to many aspiring women in space research.

In recent years, more women have been taking up roles in various space-related projects, contributing their expertise to missions ranging from Earth observation to planetary exploration. This progress showcases the increasing recognition of women’s capabilities and potential in the field of space research in India

Some of the illustrated women who have donned the space colours include:

1. Dr. M. Vanitha: She gained prominence as the Project Director of Chandrayaan-2, India’s second lunar exploration mission. Her leadership role was crucial in overseeing the entire project, from design to execution. The mission was aimed at exploring the Moon’s south polar region, and Dr.Vanitha’s contribution played a pivotal role in its launch and orbit insertion.

2. Ritu Karidhal: Known as the “Rocket woman of India,” RituKaridhal was the Deputy Operations Director for Chandrayaan-2. Her expertise in spacecraft navigation and mission planning was vital for the mission’s success. Her involvement inspired many young women to pursue careers in space science and engineering. She actively participated in Chandrayan-3 mission as well.

3. Anuradha TK: Anuradha TK served as the Program Director for Communication Satellites at ISRO. While not directly associated with the Chandrayaan missions, her contribution to the organization has been significant. She is an advocate of gender equality in science and technology fields.

4. Nandini Harinath: Nandini Harinath is another notable figure who worked on ISRO’s missions, including Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) and Chandrayaan-2. Her expertise in systems engineering and mission planning highlights the crucial roles women play in space exploration.

5. Minal Sampath: Minal Sampath was the lead engineer for the launch of Chandrayaan-2. Her technical expertise in mission integration was a key to the mission’s success. She is an exemplar of the growing number of women who are breaking barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields.

6. Tessy Thomas: While not directly associated with Chandrayaan missions, Tessy Thomas, also known as the “Missile woman of India,” has been a significant figure in ISRO. Her contributions to the development of ballistic missile technology underline the diverse roles women can play in scientific research.

7. Kalpana K: She is the associate director of ISRO and was actively involved in Chandrayaan-3 mission. She is an engineer who has also worked in Chandrayaan-2 and Mangalyaan also.

These are just a few examples of the talented and dedicated women who have contributed to India’s space program and its Chandrayaan missions. Their presence and achievements send a powerful message about gender equality, women’s empowerment, and the importance of diversity in advancing scientific and technological frontiers.