Sources in the ISRO told Deccan Herald that the space agency is planning to have a woman on-board in space shortly after, if not the first, the manned-mission scheduled for 2015. The ISRO’s Human Space flight Programme, which got a go-ahead from the Centre in February 2009, aims at developing and launching an orbital vehicle to carry a two-member crew. In a subsequent mission, the agency planned to carry a three-member crew to space, one of which will be a woman, highly-placed sources from the ISRO said.
“For a nation that has always seen tremendous potential in its women, this will be a launch pad of sorts that will only see more women take part in such activities,” a scientist said.The proposal has already taken off with funds coming in from the Centre for pre-project preparations and a three-seater capsule being readied in ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram. The mission is indigenous, though the capsule is being developed with Russian technology.
Apart from the technical preparations, efforts to ready manpower are also on. About 250 Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots, including women, have been screened though the crew has yet to be handpicked. Once selected, the pilots will be trained to fly an aircraft outside the planet’s orbit.
“They will be trained with an accurate simulator and will be checked for the right aptitude and other requirements in line with the international standards,” a source pointed out.
The mission to have a woman onboard is being widely discussed in the top chambers of Union Science and Technology Ministry, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Space and Research Organisation, could encourage entry of more women into the fields of scientific research and development, largely considered a male bastion.