Chandrayaan 2: Meet The 'Rocket Women' Directors Incharge Of India's Ambitious Lunar Mission To Its South Pole

Science

Chandrayaan 2 which is set to create history in India's space ambitions by studying the south pole of the moon, is also unique in another special aspect - the bosses of the planetary mission are women scientists- a first for ISRO.  ISRO has previously had women project directors for the launch of communication and other satellites

Written By Suchitra Karthikeyan | Mumbai | Updated On:

Chandrayaan 2 which is set to create history in India's space ambitions by studying the south pole of the moon, is also unique in another special aspect - the bosses of the planetary mission are women scientists- a first for ISRO.  ISRO has previously had women project directors for the launch of communication and other satellites.

As we continue to marvel about the technological intricacies behind the elegant designs of Chandrayaan 2, let us know more about Muthayya Vanitha - Chandrayan 2's Project Director and Ritu Karidhal- Chandrayaan 2's Mission Director. Both scientists in their 40s have been with ISRO for over two decades and were part of the Mangalyaan mission.

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Muthayya Vanitha (Chandrayan 2's Project Director ):

Vanitha is an electronics systems engineer who was previously in charge of making data handling systems for their remote-sensing satellites. Here are some of her astonishing achievements:

  • 2006 winner of the best woman scientist award of the Astronautical Society of India
  • Deputy project director for data systems for the remote sensing satellites Cartosat-1, Oceansat-2 and Megha-Tropiques.
  • Head of Telemetry and Telecommand divisions in the digital systems group at the satellite centre - UR Rao Space Centre
  • A key member of the Mangalyaan mission in 2013

As project director, Vanitha is responsible for the project from the very beginning, including the configuration of the entire system, its review, assembly and implementation. She is also to become a single-point authority for the overall project. 

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Ritu Karidhal (Chandrayaan 2's Mission Director):

Karidhal is an Aerospace engineer holding a master's degree from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and was part of the Mangalyaan mission. Here are some details of her ISRO journey:

  • A Lucknow resident with dreams of working at ISRO, Karidhal started her space journey in her teens following all of ISRO's projects.
  • Was a key engineer responsible for operations of the satellite in the Mangalyaan mission. She was instrumental in making automation on the satellite a reality which changed her career at ISRO.

As mission director, she will be handling the operations of the spacecraft from the time it is inserted into the orbit to initial operations, raising the orbit and taking all the contingency actions when required. She will play a major role once the satellite is injected into orbit.

What is Chandrayaan 2?

Chandrayaan 2 is an Indian lunar mission that will boldly go where no country has ever gone before — the Moon's south polar region, as explained by ISRO. With this achievement, India becomes the fourth country after the US, Russia and China to land a probe on the lunar surface. India's Rs.960 crore lunar rocket 'Chandrayaan 2' is all set and currently prepping for its journey to the south pole of the moon, launching at 2:51 AM on July 15 from ISRO's launch base - Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
 

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