To the moon and back: The women behind India’s Chandrayaan-3

By Aliya Zuberi

KARACHI: It has been quite the monumental week for our neighbors. On the 23rd of August, India became the first country to land in the lunar south pole region and is one of the only four countries to complete a successful moon landing just behind the USA, Russia and China. And at the forefront of the success of Chandrayaan-3 were a group of women who proved just how capable they are and that the sky is not the limit for them! Here are some of the strongest female forces behind the Indian moon landing and in the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

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Dr. Ritu Karidhal Srivastava

About 27% of ISRO is made up of women, some of whom are the heads of departments and projects. One name that stands out is Dr. Ritu Karidhal Srivastava who is also known as the “Rocket Woman of India.” Not only did she play an essential role in the Indian moon landing but the aerospace engineer also served as a Deputy Operations Director for India’s Mars orbital mission.

Nandini Harinath

Nandini Harinath serves as rocket scientist at ISRO’s Satellite Centre and has been a part of over 14 missions in the last 20 years. She was one of the leading women for the Mars Orbiter Mission and served as the missions’ deputy operations director.

Anuradha T. K.

Anuradha T.K is one of the senior-most scientists at ISRO and specializes in communication satellites and is also the first woman to be a Satellite Project Director at ISRO. She was also an integral part of the GSAT-10 and GSAT-12 satellite missions.

Muthayya Vanitha

An electronics system engineer, Muthayya Vanitha was the first ever woman to serve as a project director for the Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission and was also a part of the Mangalyaan mission to Mars in 2013.

Tessy Thomas

Tessy Thomas is often referred to as the “Missile Woman.” Before her work towards the Indian moon landing, she was the first woman in India incharge of heading a missile project. She went on to serve as the project Director of the Agni-IV missile program at the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).  

Moumita Dutta

Moumitta Dutta has played an integral part in India’s missions to Mars and served as the project manager for the Methane Sensor for Mars and helped in the development of its optical system. She was awarded the ISRO Team of Excellence Award for her contribution.

VR Lalithambika

One of the senior most scientists in the ISRO, VR Lalithambika is currently serving as the director of the Indian Human Spaceflight Program which aims to carry three astronauts to space for at least seven days.

The female participation in the Indian moon landing and in other major space missions sets a great example of how women are an integral part of any work force and, given the opportunity, they can take us to the moon and beyond!

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