Women take center stage for Chandrayaan-2

Women take center stage for Chandrayaan-2

People celebrate with a Tricolour the successful launch of India’s second Moon mission Chandrayaan-2 by GSLV Mk III-M1 launch vehicle, in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, Monday, July 22, 2019. Photo credit: PTI

'Mahila' power came to the fore as India's GSLV-MkIII-M1-Chandrayaan-2 Moon mission on Monday from the spaceport at Sriharikota was helmed by two women scientists of ISRO.

It was a special day for Ritu Karidhal and M Vanitha, the Mission and Project directors respectively for Chandrayaan-2, as the country's most powerful rocket launched the spacecraft in better than the desired orbit after lift-off from here. "We always ensure that women scientists are equal to men. ... we found these women scientists are capable of doing the job and that is why we have given the job to them," Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman K Sivan had said in a message ahead of the launch.

The women engineers, in their 40s, have over two decades of service with the premier space agency and were presently posted at the UR Rao Space Centre in Bengaluru, an official told PTI. Ritu Karidhal, who was the Deputy Operations Director of Mars Orbiter Mission launched by India in 2013, was driven by the passion for science. "I realised science is not a subject for me but a passion. When I got job intimation letter from ISRO, my parents showed their complete confidence in me and sent me here (ISRO headquarters)," she said in a video shared by ISRO.

Vanitha, who oversaw the development of the hardware of the launch vehicle, is reportedly the first woman to have bagged the Best Woman Scientist award instituted by the Astronomical Society of India.

Ace Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar took to Twitter to hail the two women scientists. "India's second space mission to the moon, #Chandrayaan2 is led by two women scientists of @isro, a first in India's history!! Sending my best to the rocket women and #ISRO team, more power to you!", he tweeted.

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also congratulated the women scientists for the successful launch of Chandrayaan-2. "Extending my best wishes to the whole team of scientists & engineers @isro working tirelessly for the succesful launch of #Chandrayaan2 going to take place tomorrow. Kudos to all the women scientists for their dedication and hard work! Your efforts have made the country proud," he said.

According to the ISRO annual report 2018-19, it employs 2,069 women in the scientific and technical categories and 3,285 in administrative jobs. Sivan had earlier said nearly 30 per cent of ISRO's women workforce would work on the Chandrayaan-2 mission.