The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) achieved another remarkable milestone on July 14, 2023, with the successful launch of Chandrayaan-3 at 2.35 PM IST. Lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, Chandrayaan-3 sets its sights on a captivating moon exploration mission, specifically targeting the enigmatic South pole of our lunar neighbor.
If Chandrayaan-3’s landing proves triumphant, India will proudly join the elite league of countries, including the United States, Russia, and China, who have accomplished this feat. Spearheading this groundbreaking mission is the brilliant Dr. Ritu Karidhal Srivastava, a distinguished scientist within ISRO.
Affectionately known as the “rocket woman” of India, Srivastava hails from the vibrant city of Lucknow. Her journey into the cosmos began with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from Lucknow University, followed by a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering from the prestigious Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
Since joining ISRO in 1997, Srivastava has made indelible contributions to the organization’s ambitious ventures. Notably, she served as the Mission Director of Chandrayaan-2 and as the Deputy Operations Director of the trailblazing Mangalyaan mission. Her expertise and dedication have earned her immense recognition, with over 20 published papers in esteemed national and international journals.
Driven by an unyielding passion for space exploration, Srivastava’s fascination with ISRO and NASA filled her childhood, collecting newspaper clippings and nurturing a desire to make a distinctive impact in the field. Her unwavering commitment and exceptional achievements have garnered prestigious awards, including the ‘ISRO Young Scientist Award’ presented by former President APJ Abdul Kalam, the ‘ISRO Team Award for MOM (2015),’ the ‘ASI Team Award,’ and the esteemed ‘Women Achievers in Aerospace (2017)’ accolade by the Society of Indian Aerospace Technologies & Industries (SIATI).
Dr. Ritu Karidhal Srivastava, born on April 13, 1975, in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, stands as a prominent figure within ISRO. Her instrumental role in India’s Mars Orbiter Mission and her contributions to Chandrayaan-2 and Chandrayaan-3 have solidified her reputation as a respected and visionary scientist. With a career spanning over 24 years, Srivastava continues to inspire future generations of scientists, pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge, and reaffirming India’s prowess in the global space arena.
Some Lesser Known Facts About Ritu Kharidhal
- Ritu Karidhal is an ISRO scientist who hails from a middle-class family in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Ritu has been the Deputy Mission Director for the Mangalyaan-1 and the Mission Director for the Chandrayaan-2. She also led India’s third moon mission, Chandrayaan-3, which was launched from Satish Dhawan space centre in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota at 2.35 pm on 14 July 2023.
- During her school days, she used to spend hours on her terrace, studying books about the space or looking at the sky and the stars.
- As a student, she loved mathematics. Once, in an interview, she said-I often used to write poems related to mathematics and imagine myself being surrounded by numbers”
- When she was a teenager, she used to follow ISRO and NASA developments in the newspapers, and she used to keep newspaper cuttings of all their missions and projects. She was inspired by their work, and she wanted to do something in the space sciences.
- Ritu completed her M.Sc in 1997. She started her PhD in Physics and had just completed six months of her PhD when she cracked the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE). She quit her PhD and left for Bangalore to join the Indian Insitute of Science.
- While Ritu was pursuing her PhD, she was also working as a part-time lecturer. Apart from this, she had also published a paper during her PhD.
- While she was working as a part-time lecturer, she used to search for job openings in the newspaper for ISRO. Once, when she spotted a job at ISRO, she applied for it, and in a few months, she was called for a position at ISRO.
- When she was selected for a job at ISRO, she was in a dilemma, as she was very keen on research and did not want to quit her PhD, but it was Manisha Gupta (her physics professor at Lucknow University) who had encouraged her to join ISRO.
- She landed into the Mangalyaan Mission suddenly; without any prior notification. She stated, – We had just finished a project and suddenly without warning, we were plunged headlong into the next one, but, this was to be the most exciting project I had worked on so far”.
- While talking about her task in the Mangalyaan Mission, she says- My job was to conceptualise and ensure the execution of the craft’s onward autonomy system, which is the brain of the satellite, a software system coded in well enough to function on its own, determine what and when to detach, anything that needs to be infracted. If there’s a malfunction, the system needs to be designed well enough to correct and recover on its own in outer space”
- 10 months before the Mars Orbiter Mission launch, her schedule was so hectic that she used to come home from the office, sit with her children and help them with their homework, finish her other household chores, and then she used to resume her work from midnight to 4 AM.
- Ritu wishes that more women should be in the field of space sciences. She states that the situation has improved, but, she wishes more women to be involved in the field and also wants women to win Nobel Prizes.
- On 3 March 2019, Ritu was invited to TEDx Talks in Hyderabad where she spoke about how India successfully launched the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).
- During the TEDx event,Shah Rukh Khan was also present. He stated that it was a very proud moment for him to meet Ritu Karidhal.
- She was appointed as the Deputy Mission Director of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called the Mangalyaan-1, which was launched successfully on 5 November 2013 at 9:08 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).
- Ritu Karidhal was the Mission Director of Chandrayaan-2, which launched successfully on 22 July 2019 at 2:43 PM (IST) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre’s Second Launch Pad.