ISRO chairman calls for more female astronauts in India's space missions

Chairman Somanath stresses nationwide support for female astronauts

PTI10_24_2023_000106B ISRO Chairman S. Somanath blesses a child during the Vidyarambam ceremony, in Thiruvananthapuram | PTI

The Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), S Somanath, has voiced his wish for greater female involvement in the nation's space missions. Speaking at an event in Thiruvananthapuram, Somanath reiterated the sentiments shared by the nation, including those of the Prime Minister.

While initiating children into the world of letters as part of the Vidyarambam ceremony, Somanath expressed his hope to see more female astronauts in ISRO's ambitious Gaganyaan mission. However, he clarified that due to the selection and training process already underway, it would not be feasible to include women in the inaugural mission, which aims to send humans to space and safely return them to Earth.

Nonetheless, the ISRO Chairman remains optimistic about greater female participation in future Gaganyaan missions. "Having more women astronauts in space missions is a part of my wish list, and I am echoing the voice of the nation, including that of the Prime Minister," Somanath told PTI.

In a recent statement, Somanath revealed that ISRO is keen on selecting woman fighter test pilots or female scientists for the highly anticipated Gaganyaan human space flight program. He also announced the agency's plan to send a female humanoid, a robot resembling a human, aboard the unmanned Gaganyaan spacecraft next year.

The ambitious Gaganyaan mission aims to send humans into space on a Low Earth Orbit of 400 km for a duration of three days, ensuring their safe return to Earth. Somanath assured that steps would be taken to identify potential female candidates for future missions.

During the Vijayadasami celebrations, which hold spiritual significance, the ISRO Chairman engaged in prayers and participated in the Vidyarambam ceremony. He emphasised that the ceremony is not religious in nature but serves as an initiation to education, where alphabets are revered as knowledge.

Somanath highlighted the importance of gurus, who possess knowledge, passing it on to children as a blessing. He described it as a spiritual gesture that helps children learn and comprehend the vastness of the universe.

Former ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair and Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Director Unnikrishnan were also present at the event, extending their support to the children participating in Vidyarambam.

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