Chandrayaan-2 is an advanced follow-up of Chandrayaan-1, which was launched 10 years ago. The main purpose of this Rs. 978 crore mission is to gather information on minerals, rock formations, and water on moon. The lunar mission, which was originally planned for July 15, 2019, was delayed after a ‘technical snag’ was discovered just before the final countdown.
Amongst many other things that make this mission unique is that it’s Project Director and Mission Director are both women scientists from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), India’s premier scientific organisation, heading the country’s space programmes.
Ritu Karidhal, the Mission Director of Chandrayaan-2 hails from Lucknow. She holds a Master’s degree in the field of Aerospace Engineering from IISc. She joined ISRO in 2007, and received ‘ISRO Young Scientist Award’ from former president APJ Abdul Kalam in the same year. Also, she played a leading role as deputy operations director for Mangalyaan, India’s first interplanetary mission. She is famously known as the ‘rocket woman’ of India.
The second woman leading the mission M Vanitha, the Project Director of Chandrayaan-2, has also been working with ISRO for a long time. She was awarded the ‘Best Woman Scientist Award’ in 2006. Previously, she headed the Telemetry and Telecommand Divisions in the Digital Systems Group, ISRO Satellite Centre. As the Project Director, she is responsible for the overall smooth functioning of the mission until Chandryaan-2 reaches the moon on its estimated date of 6 September 2019.
Both these extremely talented women share another common thing between them – they both have exhausting work hours. As stated by K. Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation- “apart from them, 30 per cent of the members working on the mission are women.”
In a country where women have never been seen on the leading front of any space mission, this extraordinary achievement is an excellent example of the capabilities and potential of women.