V R Lalithambika is now the head of ISRO’s human spaceflight programme – India’s first human spaceflight project. She is a control engineer who specialises in advanced launcher technologies.

V R Lalithambika – Woman of substance

Lalithambika is the Deputy Director at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram and has a distinguished background. She holds a masters degree in control engineering. She joined VSSC, Thiruvananthapuram in 1988 and now heads control, guidance and simulation entity at the institution.

Lalithambika believes that most young people want to join ISRO, to become proud members of teams working on future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Her group works on optimising fuel for all rockets (PSLV, GSLV, even the single flight of Reusable Launch Vehicle or RLV). They also work for autopilot of rockets, development of software for onboard computers of all rockets and hardware which holds the computer, as well as review the design of rockets.

The recent launch of 104 satellites was her team’s most challenging mission as an end-to-end test of all systems. The launch won great international acclaim bringing accolades for the country during a single flight of PSLV.

Lalithambika will collaborate with various organisations for fulfilment of the programme. “It’s very challenging to work in ISRO. We are just starting so I cannot comment much on the human space flight programme,” she told Deccan Chronicle. “I don’t see anything special or different moving as head of this programme office in ISRO headquarters from VSSC (Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram). We undertake anything as well as we can,” she added.

Gaganyaan – ISRO’s human spaceflight programme

PM Modi, in his Independence Day speech, promised of an Indian rocketing into space on board, a Made-in-India ‘Gaganyaan’ module by 2022. Hours later, ISRO’s Chairman Dr K Sivan said his team will meet all technological challenges involved in this programme earlier than scheduled. This will become possible with inputs provided by experts within the organisation, a host of R&D organisations, the academia and the industry. Interestingly, the mission will generate 15,000 job opportunities as well. Lalithambika, a specialist in advanced launcher technologies, will lead the project as Director of the Human Space Flight Project.

The mission is estimated at  Rs 9,000 crore. The critical technologies and hardware required for the project are ready and have been demonstrated by its centres. ISRO will now put them into a complete project and present a comprehensive project report to get a formal approval from the government. “We have tested the necessary critical technologies required for the Human Space Flight Programme (HSP) and are confident of achieving it as stated by the Prime Minister,” Dr Sivan told DC.

Welcoming and inspiring reactions all over

V R Lalithambika’s appointment as the head of ISRO’s human spaceflight programme is a sign of progression and empowerment. More power to her and mission Gaganyaan.

Also read: Sunita Williams Set To Fly US’ First Private Spaceships

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