+ India’s Rocket Women - CII Blog

Whoever said that ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’, will have to reconsider their statement now, for we can proudly say that women are from Mars too!

Today, Indian women are, quite literally, reaching for the stars. India has now reached that juncture where women have gained recognition in nearly every single field all over the world. From being an integral part of India’s fight for freedom, to taking on culinary roles beyond house-hold kitchens as chefs, and excelling in every profession, be it whizzing on roads as a female rickshaw driver, or be it whizzing through space as astronauts – Indian women are high achievers everywhere.

The glass ceiling has been slowly disintegrating piece by piece, making India a land where women can dream of equal opportunities free of gender-based discrimination.

For centuries, women have fought against society’s prejudices and have indisputably created “space” for themselves in industries that have historically been male-dominated. Now, women have made an indelible mark in the global aerospace industry too and have been lauded all over the world.

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was formed in 1969 with a vision to harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. The agency has many women in leadership positions in the space sector, working on design and development.

In 2014, it was the women scientists of ISRO who led India’s venture into space. Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) gave women an opportunity to prove their excellence. Several women scientists worked on the project and successfully put a satellite into orbit around Mars, one of the most precise and low-cost space projects in the world.

Seetha Somasundaram: ISRO’s leading space science instrumentation expert, she held the post of Program Director at its Space Science Programme Office and worked on the calibration of Mangalyaan.

B.P. Dakshayani: She led the team that watched over the Mars spacecraft’s route and expertly kept its orbit dynamics on the right track.

Minal Sampath: A systems engineer on India’s mission to Mars, she worked often for 18 hours a day to achieve India’s most ambitious space project to date.

Anuradha TK: Inspired by Neil Armstrong, she pursued her dreams and is now the senior-most woman officer at ISRO and an inspiration for all women working there.

Ritu Karidhal: Juggling the duties of a mother and the Deputy Operations Director of the Mars Orbiter Mission, this space scientist was instrumental in pulling off the mission successfully.

Moumitta Dutta: One of ISROs top scientists, she is part of a team that worked on India’s acclaimed MOM. Today, she is heading a team to make indigenous progress in optical sciences as a part of ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Nandini Harinath: The Deputy Director on Mars Orbiter Mission, she gained a notable position during this project and made her mark in space.

N. Valarmathi: This exemplary scientist was felicitated with the Abdul Kalam Award in 2015 for India’s first indigenously-developed Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-1) for which she was the project director.

Tessy Thomas: She is the first woman engineer to head a missile project in India. Also known as the Missile Woman of India, she works for the Defence Research and Development Organization.

The whole world has applauded these strong resilient women, who have successfully balanced their personal and professional lives.

Most of them achieved success due to their passion and commitment despite all odds. The responsibilities of being a wife, mother and daughter simply added to those of a life dedicated to science. Be it cooking food for an entire family at 5 am or launching a satellite into space, these women have proven that they can do it all.

Breaking all stereotypes, these stupendous women now look toward the future in hope of exploring the entire cosmic neighbourhood.

It is never enough to just simply wish on stars, you must reach for them too, and in order to do so you must have the courage to lose sight of the ground.