As India’s most ambitious moon mission, named, Chandrayan 2, lifted off from its launch pad in Sriharikota, on July 22, loud congratulations were heard all over the world. But there were two women who were tense and will wait to start celebrating till the mission is successfully completed. Because, the most demanding phase of their work has just begun!
Meet the two women of immense talent and drive on whose shoulders rests the most complex technological challenge India’s space establishment has ever undertaken.
Muthayya Vanitha, a long-term scientist with ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization), is the Project Director, overall in charge of the Chandrayan 2 mission that will for the first time ever, attempt to land a rover on the South Pole of the Moon.
India will be only the fourth country to attempt a soft landing of a lander-rover combination on the moon’s surface after the US, Russia and China. India’s mission is unique in that it will be the first time a manmade object will land on moon’s south pole, believed to contain huge amount of water ice.
Vanitha, typical of her modest personality, was at first not keen on taking on the responsibility till a senior colleague who was in charge of the earlier Chandrayan 1 mission, convinced her otherwise.
An electronics and communications engineer from Chennai, Vanitha is proud of her humble beginning before she could start dreaming of reaching the moon. She joined ISRO as junior engineer at the lowest rung of the hierarchy, working on small projects in the lab, testing carts, making hardware, designing and developing before being given prestigious projects such as Chandrayan.
And then there is Ritu Karidhal, Mission Director, Chandrayan 2, who has worked closely with Vanitha for the past number of years, planning India’s shot at the moon.
Ritu Karidhal, a graduate of Lucknow University and the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, she played a key role earlier in navigating ISRO's Mangalyaan spacecraft to Mars in 2013. In that role she had earned the nickname of ‘Rocket Woman of India’.
While the media focus is on Vanitha and Karidhal, it’s encouraging to learn that there are a number of other women scientists who work on such projects. About 30 per cent of the workforce at ISRO is women.
We at Bloom Organic Bazaar are over the moon at the achievements of these women of of substance. Congratulations!