Ritu Karidhal and Muthayya Vanitha
Aiming to take a "billion dreams to the moon", India on Monday successfully launched its second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 on-board its powerful rocket GSLV-MkIII-M1 from the spaceport Sriharikota to explore the uncharted south pole of the celestial body by landing a rover. The geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle lifted-off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre into cloudy skies at 2.43 pm and successfully placed the 3,850-kg Chandrayaan-2 into the earth orbit 16 minutes and 14 seconds later.
According to a statement by the Indian Space Research Organisation, Chandrayaan-2, a three-module spacecraft comprising orbiter, lander and rover, will be subjected to a series of orbit manoeuvres using its onboard propulsion system to take it to the vicinity of Moon over the next weeks with the rover soft landing planned on September 7.
The success of the mission, helmed by two women Ritu Karidhal (mission director) and M Vanitha (project director), brought huge relief for ISRO scientists after the July 15 launch was called off just about an hour left following a technical glitch in the rocket.
The Rs 978 crore mission, that will mark a giant leap in India's space programme and make it only the fourth country to land a rover on Moon, was rescheduled to Monday after scientists corrected the technical glitch in the three-stage rocket.
All you need to know about the two senior women scientists:
Muthayya Vanitha has had a distinguished career within the ISRO, and the Chandrayaan-2 mission is just another feather in her cap. Vanitha has become the first ever woman project director at ISRO, breaking barriers like never before. But interestingly, she was unwilling to take this post. Muthayya, who has been conferred with the best woman scientist award in 2006 by the Indian Aeronautical Society, was named among the “Ones To Watch Out in 2019” by 2018 edition of Nature’s 10, an annual listicle of ten “people who mattered” in science, produced by the scientific journal Nature.
Vanitha is an electronics system engineer of great repute within the ISRO. She has also been responsible for handling data operations for the country's remote sensing satellites, and is highly regarded for her problem-solving skills -- which she will definitely need, since she's tasked with the unenviable task of handling Chandrayaan 2 from launch till successful landing on moon's surface in September.
Regarded as the "Rocket Woman" of India, Ritu Karidhal was the deputy operations director for Mangalyaan in 2013-2014. She has the experience of doing such a project, and now holds the mantle of Chandrayaan 2 mission director. She has been working closely with Vanitha throughout the Chandrayaan-2 mission.
An aerospace engineer, Karidhal has been working with the ISRO for the past 22 years. Karidhal is an alumnus of Lucknow University and Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.
(With PTI inputs)