India is the sixth leading space-faring nation in the world today; Isro — India’s space organisation— maintains a fleet of satellites and caters to a worldwide requirement of providing quality services in space technology.
Behind this achievement is Isro’s dedicated workforce — one-quarter of which are women holding key positions.
Little was known about the workings of Isro until the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), when, Isro deviating from its protocol, gave a public eye to its mission through its Facebook page, garnering keen interest and attention from media and the public alike. Through this, came to the fore the contributions of Isro’s women scientists employed in the various departments, and the critical role they played in the success story, justifiably earning them the media moniker – Rocket Women of India.
Aiming For The Stars
Growing up fascinated by space — be it the thrill of Star Trek or gazing at the stars or being amazed by a man setting foot on the moon — these women are delighted to be chasing their dreams and being a part of the prestigious organisation.
Isro’s non- hierarchical approach to realising a project has given them ample opportunity to showcase their talent. Many of them who have been with Isro for two decades or more, are fully aware of the critical job and manage the high technology aspects with finesse. In fact, one among them aspires to become the first woman to head a national space agency.
In Her, We Trust
While Anuradha TK and Seetha Somasundaram helm the affairs of prestigious projects as Senior Program Directors, Nandini Harinath and Ritu Karidhal contribute immensely as Deputy Operations Directors. The intricacies of rocket fuel optimisation, auto-piloting and software requirements are ably handled by Lalithambika and her team; while Systems Engineers Minal Sampath, Kriti Faujdar and Moumita Dutta delve into the design aspects of the payloads (scientific equipment).
The resounding success of the maiden Mars Mission and the picture -perfect orbital placement of 104 satellites stands testimony to their ingenuity.
Hands That Rock The Cradle…
Indian women carry multiple cultural loads. So, how do these enterprising women balance it all? By treating the projects as their babies, expressed one scientist. Adeptly syncing head and heart, they breathe life into their work and stay focused during the nail-biting moments in their profession.
MOM called for a tight deadline of 18 months, which saw them unflinchingly contributing 15-hour workdays at a stretch for the entire period.
Our Unsung Heros
The rocket women of India are driven by passion, zealously giving their best always— which silently bury stereotypes that women are not cut out for science careers.
Despite being in the limelight, they remain unwavering to the adulation and humbly accord their success to the team effort, setting exemplary standards for the growing body of young women scientists of the future generations.
Though only a few names take mention here, many such unsung heroes who, beckoned by worlds beyond the expanse of the skies, are relentlessly pioneering to put people and machines into the realms of space.