Rocket Woman Power: Meet Ritu Karidhal, Mission Director Chandrayaan-2

Ritu Karidhal Chandrayaan 2, india's female physicists

Meet Ritu Karidhal who is the Mission Director for Chandrayaan 2, which is a prestigious moon landing mission for India. Chandrayaan-2’s unmanned landing will provide a technology which can eventually help explore habitation on another planet. It is the first step towards that. Ritu was actively associated with the Mars mission as deputy operations director. Now, as mission director, she is supervising the ambitious Chandrayaan-2.

Also Read: Meet the women powering India’s 1000 cr moon mission

Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second lunar exploration mission after Chandrayaan-1. Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO, the mission is planned to be launched to the Moon by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III. It includes a lunar orbiter, lander and rover, all developed indigenously.

Ritu Karidhal

SheThePeople team with Ritu Karidhal

Ritu Karidhal is now a global rocket woman whose efforts are getting recognised. Her appointment as the lead should herald a new era in the history of women scientists from India. “We have many interplanetary missions. It’s a landing mission. First mission was earlier just to orbit the moon but now we will be making a landing,” Ritu Karidhal said in an interview to SheThePeople. She added that her efforts were on on many missions and initiatives at all times. “We are working on many new applications regarding navigations. We are working on how to make them operationalised and make it available to the common man.”

A Global Icon

With Chandrayaan-2, Ritu Karidhal turns a global icon. Her work will go down in history books. But what’s not changed one bit is Ritu’s humbleness.  Ritu tells SheThePeople, “We have worked for many challenging missions. Thanks to public outreach we have got attention, but for me the spacecraft we worked earlier on, it was equally important.” Ritu promises to be a massive inspiration to countless young girls wanting to pursue science and tech.

Also Read: Meet The Woman Who is Storytelling Rocket Women of the World

Ritu Hails From Lucknow

Ritu was brought up in a middle-class family in Lucknow. She attended Navyug Girls College and joined Lucknow University for higher education.After completing her graduation and post graduation from Lucknow University in 1997, she enrolled for a doctorate in physics at the same university. She then sat for exams to enter the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bengaluru and joining the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Her two decade long career is an example of dedication, prowess and success.

Also Read: India’s 1000 cr Moon Mission is powered by them

A Mom Who Dotes On Her Children

Ritu talks of being mom. It’s a tough role and a demanding job which often gets her home pretty late. A family that supports her is important to Ritu but she adds her children never complain and instead are always there to receive her with happiness. “Usually I would come back home very late, beyond 8 o’clock. I would have my kids run around and catch me. ‘Mummy has come..Mummy has come’. They would be there smilingly accepting me back. This would give me the energy to continue to work on,” she says in an interview with SheThePeople.

Mangalyan was one of the greatest achievement of ISRO. It made India the fourth country in the world to reach Mars. Ritu played an important role in that mission as well. Ask her and she will humbly share the credit of all her work to team work. Her job was to conceptualize and execute the craft’s onward autonomy system, which operated the satellite’s functions independently in space and responded appropriately to malfunctions. She then took up working in the Chandrayaan 2 mission which aimed to send a rover to the moon’s surface and study lunar soil in July 2019.

Below is an interview with the women who powered India’s Mars Mission. Three scientists, including Ritu Karidhal speak to our correspondent Poorvi Gupta