The much awaited prototype of India’s first Reusable Launch Vehicle — Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) was successfully tested today, launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 7 am. With this, India has moved a step forward in developing space vehicles that can be launched into space many times over. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted this on ISRO’s success:
For those of us who don’t know, the RLV-TD is a scaled prototype of the AVATAR, ie the Aerobic Vehicle for Transatmospheric Hypersonic Aerospace Reusable Launch Vehicle. The space shuttle is rumored to be 10 times cheaper than any normally used shuttle for a space mission. Isro’s mission was all the more vital since it was the first time in history that it was sending a winged body into Space, which returned back to Earth and landed.
So as the scientific community celebrates this milestone into orbit, we thought of remembering a couple of women who also achieved milestones in space.
Sunita Williams: American astronaut of Indian origin, Sunita, holds the record for having flown twice into space and for the most time spent in spacewalks by a woman, in total seven in number.
Having begun her training in 1998, Williams wheeled the space shuttle Discovery on the STS-116 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in December of 2006. Williams flew to the ISS a second time on July 15, 2012, as part of the crew of Soyuz TMA-05Mand. Her two spaceflights combined lasted more than 321 days, making her the second female astronaut after American astronaut Peggy Whitson, for the most time spent in space by a woman.
In 2015 Williams was selected as one of four astronauts who will make the first test flights in NASA’s Commercial Crew program, when its own new rockets will launch into space.
Kalpana Chawla: Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla holds the distinction for being the first woman of Indian origin to fly into space. Her first flight was in 1997, on Space Shuttle Columbia.
Chawla’ was a part of a seven astronaut crew mission which left earth aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia again in 2003. However tragedy struck here as sadly this turned out to be her last flight as the shuttle disintegrated while entering the earth’s atmosphere, killing all on board. Over the course of the 16-day flight, the crew completed more than 80 experiments.
Kalpana was then honoured with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Space Flight Medal and NASA Distinguished Service Medal. During her stay in space, Chawla’s total numbered is 30 days, 14 hours, and 54 minutes in space over the course of her two missions.
Here’s hoping for some more such gutsy ladies in the aeronautics space.
Feature Image Credit: corporateethos.in