Chennai: A good measure of women's power is powering India's Rs 978 Crore second moon mission, the Chandrayaan-2, with the Project Director and the Mission Director also being women.

"Nearly 30 per cent of the members working on the Chandrayaan-2 mission will be women," K. Sivan, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had told the media earlier.

The Project Director is M Vanitha, an electronics systems engineer, shouldering the entire responsibility of the Chandrayaan-2. Initially Vanitha, who was responsible for data handling systems for India's remote sensing satellites, was reluctant to accept the historical responsibility. However, at the persuasion of M. Annadurai, then Director, ISRO Satellite Centre, she agreed.

On the other hand, Mission Director Ritu Karidhal, a Master's degree holder in Aerospace Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, was the Deputy Operations Director for the Mars mission. Several attempts to reach out to them went in vain. "We are not authorised to speak to the media. Sorry," Karidhal politely told. Vanitha and Ritu, both in their 40s, have been with ISRO for over 20 years.

Project Director Muthayya Vanitha

M Vanitha’s name will go down in Indian history as the first woman project director in ISRO, that too, for a landmark mission to the moon that is Chandrayaan-2. Known to have excellent problem-solving skills and team management capabilities have brought her on board for this crucial project.She was among the top 10 scientists to watch out for this year by Nature, an international journal of science.

Mission Director Ritu Karidhal

Ritu is hailed as one of the ‘rocket women’ of India who she started her career as an aerospace engineer at ISRO in 1997.A graduate in Physics from the University of Lucknow,she earned her Masters in Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Science (IISc). She worked in many ISRO projects, with the biggest one being the Mangalyaan or the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), which launched on November 5, 2013. As the Deputy Operations Director of MOM, Ritu conceptualised and ensured the execution of the spacecraft’s onward autonomy system, an onboard system-level capability to make mission-relevant decisions without ground support. (With inputs from IANS and TNM)

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