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On 22nd July 2019, Monday at 2:43 pm, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched Chandrayan-2 from the Sriharikota space centre in Andhra Pradesh and with this, the 48-day journey of this spacecraft has begun to dig deep water on the moon.
The best thing about the launch was that it is headed by two women scientists Muthayya Vanitha and Ritu Karidhal. However, it was not for the first time when women have been appointed with such a responsibility. In the year 2014, MOM or mission Mangalyaan was launched in which five women scientists played a lead position and made it a success.
Muthayya Vanitha, Ritu Karidhal, Nandini Harinath, Anuradha TK, Moumita Dutta, Minal Rohit, and V. R. Lalithambika are the names of ISRO's women scientists who broke the stereotypes and gave India another reason to celebrate the women power.
These women have proved that they can break the glass ceiling of the earth and send spacecraft to the mars and the moon while fulfilling their family duties as well. The day is not far when the adage "Men are from mars and women are from venus" will no longer exist as equality has gaining momentum today.
Rocket Women Behind MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission)
Mangalyaan or MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission) was the interplanetary mission of ISRO to explore and observe the surface features of the planet Mars. It was launched on 5 November 2013 by ISRO. The mission was a success in the first attempt and it made India the fourth nation in the world to successfully place such a satellite in the orbit of Mars.
Though it was teamwork where each member had contributed their effort, the major force behind this mission was a group of women. The women behind MOM were Ritu Karidhal, Nandini Harinath, Anuradha TK, Moumita Dutta, and Minal Rohit. Scroll down to know more about their life and contributions in ISRO's space missions.
a. Moumita Dutta
An MTech degree holder in Applied Physics, Moumita Dutta joined SAC (Space Application Centre) in the year 2006. She was part of several prestigious projects like HySAT, Chandrayaan 1, and Oceansat. In the MOM mission, she was assigned as a Project Manager (Methane Sensor for Mars) and given the responsibility for the development of the overall optical system that includes optimization, calibration, and characterisation of the sensor. Moumita is an expert in testing and developing IR and optical sensors. She had received the Team of Excellence Award for the MOM mission as well.
b. Nandini Harinath
Nandini Harinath was the part of the Maangalyaan as a project manager for Mission Designer & Deputy Operations. She has been associated with ISRO for the past 20 years and worked on almost 14 missions to date. Her parents were an engineer and a math teacher and she was first introduced to science via popular series Star Trek.
Nandini wants all women to realise that they can balance well between their family and career. She discusses the problem of highly educated women who are giving up just before reaching leadership positions. Nandini is a mother of two daughters.
c. Minal Rohit
Minal Rohit, a 38-year-old power woman is a gold medalist in her field of engineering and has started her career at ISRO as a Satellite Communications Engineer. She has been a part of Mangaalyaan as a system integration engineer and worked with other mechanical engineers to monitor the components of the payloads.
Minal was awarded Young Scientist Merit Award in 2007 and ISRO Team Excellence Award in the year 2013.
d. Anuradha TK
Anuradha TK has joined the ISRO in 1982 and currently holds a position of project director for specialized communication satellites. She has supervised several projects like GSAT-12 and GSAT-10 and other Indian space programs.
Anuradha has won a 'Space Gold Medal' award in 2001, 'Sunil Sharma Award' in 2011, Isro Merit Award in 2012, and ISRO team Award for GSAT-12 in the year 2012.
e. Ritu Karidhal
Ritu Karidhal was the Deputy Operations Director for MOM and this rocket woman had currently helped ISRO in their second mission Chandrayaan 2.
Rocket Women Behind Chandrayaan 2
In the Chandrayaan-2 mission, there was more than just a successful rocket launch. It was for the first time in India that such an interplanetary mission was headed by two women scientists Muthayya Vanitha and Ritu Karidhal.
On this event, NASA took to twitter and congratulated ISRO on the successful launch of Chandrayan 2.
Congrats to @ISROon the launch of Chandrayaan 2, a mission to study the Moon. We're proud to support your mission comms using our Deep Space Network and look forward to what you learn about the lunar South pole where we will send astronauts on our #Artemismission in a few years pic.twitter.com/dOcWBX3kOE— NASA (@NASA) 22 July 2019
a. Muthayya Vanitha
Muthayya Vanitha is the daughter of engineer parents from Chennai. She joined ISRO as a junior most engineer and worked in the lab, hardware manufacture, testing carts, and other development sections and reached a managerial position. Keeping all the barriers aside, M. Vanitha has taken the responsibility very well as a project director of Chandrayaan 2 and became the first-ever woman at ISRO who was assigned such a lead position. She is working in ISRO from the past 32 years.
Muthayya Vanitha has been awarded Best Woman Scientist Award in 2006. She is highly regarded for her problem solving and team management skills
b. Ritu Karidhal
Ritu Karidhal is a Master's degree holder in Aerospace Engineering who has joined ISRO in the year 1997. In 2007, she has been awarded ISRO Young Scientist Award from late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Ritu has worked for many prestigious missions of ISRO and has been the operations director for many missions.
She mentions that her parents and spouse extremely supported her in every step of her life and she wants other parents also to do the same for their daughters and help them follow their dreams. In the Mangalyaan mission, also known as MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission), Ritu was the deputy operations director, whose key task was to handle the lunar orbital insertion of the spacecraft. She is known as 'Rocket Women' of India.
Ritu is currently the Mission Director in the Chandrayaan 2.
Rocket Woman Behind Gaganyaan
PM Narendra Modi had announced the launch of Gaganyaan by the year 2022. It will be the first manned mission by ISRO which is set to be launched on Independence day (2022), the day when India will celebrate their 75th years of independence.
Human Space Flight Centre is operational now after its inauguration by Dr K Kasturirangan, ex-Chairman, ISRO. Chairman Dr K Sivan and other officials too were present. The facility is next to ISRO HQ. A full-scale #Gaganyaancrew module model also unveiled. pic.twitter.com/hIEf8pu3Lq— ISRO (@isro) January 31, 2019
For this space programme, ISRO has assigned V. R. Lalithambika as the Director of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme.
V. R. Lalithambika
Lalithambika is an engineer and scientist who is currently leading the Gaganyaan mission that is set to be launched in the year 2022. She is a specialist in Advanced Launcher Vehicle Technologies. She has worked with ISRO under various projects and been a part of approximately 100 missions. Her projects include Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), and Reusable Launch Vehicle.
V. R. Lalithambika has been awarded Space Gold Medal in the year 2001 and ISRO Performance Excellence Award in the year 2013. She also won ISRO Individual Merit Award and Astronautical Society of India award for her extreme effort in the launch vehicle technology.