Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams emerged as huge inspiration for Indians when they flew into space. Now, Shawna Pandya, a neurosurgeon from Canada’s Alberta is all set to become the third Indian-origin woman to achieve this mesmerising feat.
The 32-year-old Pandya has her roots in Mumbai and is qualified to fly for NASA for space missions. Her immense talent can be understood by the fact that Pandya was one of two candidates shortlisted from 3,200 people in the Citizen Science Astronaut program. She will thus fly with eight other astronauts in 2018.
Shawna's path-breaking achievements imbibe an aura of invincibility around her. Apart from being a neurosurgeon, she is a competitive Taekwon-Do champion, opera singer, author, and has even trained in Muay Thai with a Navy SEAL! Moreover, she has also mastered various languages such as French, Spanish and Russian.
After completing B.Sc in neuroscience at University of Alberta, Pandya completed M.Sc. in space sciences from International Space University. Further, she also pursued MD in Medicine from University of Alberta.
In the year 2016, Pandya had spent a week training in Project PoSSUM's (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) far-out Scientist-Astronaut Course at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in US. She wore spacesuits, rode on aerobatic flights and also experienced changing gravity environments as part of the training.
Pandya is currently in Mumbai to meet her family and also giving motivational lectures all over in hospitals and schools. She believes that Indians have huge potential and can achieve greatness if they use their qualities to the utmost extent.