Does the idea of being in space scare you or excite you? Space exploration is an advanced science involving the bravest, most intelligent minds. Today is the International Day of Aviation and Cosmonautics, and we’re proud to share that three women of Indian origin have joined the force as astronauts and space scientists.
Let’s take a closer look at their achievements.
1. Kalpana Chawla
The first female Indian astronaut to board a space flight was Kalpana Chawla. Since early childhood, she was quite inquisitive about airplanes. After graduating as an Aeronautical Engineer from Chandigarh, she moved to America for further studies. She got a double masters in Aerospace Engineering and later a PhD in the same. She started working for NASA in 1988 and joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1995.
Would you believe it if we said that she wasn’t good at academics? It’s true! But nothing came in the way of her success when she got determined over her purpose and ambition. She went on her first space mission, Columbia in 1997 followed by a second flight in January 2003 which was the 28th Columbia mission. Fate didn’t stand by her side when the space shuttle faced some technical trouble while re-entering the orbit of the earth and got destroyed mid-air, leading to the death of all the crew members onboard including the courageous Kalpana Chawla. She would have turned 55 on March 17th this year and will always be remembered as India’s bravest space warrior.
2. Sunita Williams
Born on 19th September, 1965, Sunita Williams (51) is the second female astronaut of Indian-Slovenian origin to embark on a space mission. From being part of the United States Navy to becoming a Test Pilot, she has explored more than most humans on earth before conquering the horizons of space.
After completing her Astronaut Candidate training at Johnson Space Centre in August 1998, she embarked on her first space mission in 2006. Her journey to the International Space Station lead her to join the Expedition 14 crew. Apart from Expedition 14 and 15, she has also ventured into space in 2012 on Expedition 32 and 33. One of the most experienced spacewalkers, Sunita Williams has made seven spacewalks as of March 2016 with a time of 50 hours and 40 minutes in space! She is now one of the first astronauts to be a part of US Commercial space flights for which she is training with other astronauts in association with Boeing and SpaceX. Way to go, Sunita!
3. Shawna Pandya
All of 31, Dr Shawna Pandya is a citizen-scientist astronaut for Project Possum and The PHEnOM Project. Though her spaceflight is not scheduled for now, she is making India proud with her stellar achievements. She is a general physician of Indo-Canadian origin. Becoming an astronaut was her childhood dream and indeed she is living it. With her vigour and firm resolve, she is sure to make history in the coming times.
All of us dream, but it takes a lot more than just a good night’s sleep to make those dreams come true. These space warriors did it with patience, penance and passion; will you?