Women in Space Science: Ritu Karidhal’s Inspiring Story

While our earlier Indian civilization gave women an upper edge, in the last few centuries it has been lost in society. Now again in the 21st century, women have started gaining respect and opportunities, breaking barriers and discrimination in every profession. 

Ritu Karidhal is a great example for women. She is an Indian scientist and aerospace engineer who joined ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) in 1997. She has been deputy operations director for India’s first MOM (Mars Orbit) mission, which reaches Mars in its first attempt, making India the first country in the world to achieve this position. 

Let’s start to learn from her inspiring life story that she has also shared in an interview on Abouther blog – 

Ritu Karidhal: Education

Ritu was born into a middle-class family in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, and has always placed great emphasis on education and hard work. She was a great student, and her mother always inspired her whenever she felt demotivated. 

Ritu Karidhal developed her hobby of stargazing as a result of her intense interest in space, and her mother joined her in appreciating the beauty of the night sky. The different sizes and shapes of the moon had always captivated her. As a result, she was interested in studying the stars and finding out what happens to the moon.

As her interest kept growing, Ritu started collecting newspaper clippings to track space-related activities related to space agencies such as NASA and ISRO. Because of her interest, she enrolled in science at her school. Later, she started pursuing a bachelor’s in physics at Lucknow University and did the M.Sc. in physics at the same university. 

After completing the master’s degree, Ritu enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the same university and published a paper in the first six months of her doctorate. Later, she started working as a lecturer in the physics department. But after qualifying for India’s most competitive national-level engineering exams (GATE), she was offered admission to the prestigious IISc (Indian Institute of Science) in Bangalore for an M.Tech in aerospace degree. 

Struggling between MTech and Ph.D. at Lucknow University, she decided to pursue an IISc in aerospace engineering. In spite of social expectations, her parents valued their daughter’s success and understood the significance of this opportunity. 

Ritu Karidhal: Awards and Accomplishments

As an aerospace engineer, Ritu has always been an inspiration for women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Here are few essential awards and accomplishments she achieved in her career –

  • Young Scientist Award (2007) was given to her in honor of her early contributions to ISRO by Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
  • Her crucial contribution to the Mars Orbiter Mission’s success was recognized in 2015 with the ISRO Team Award.
  • The Astronomical Society of India (ASI) Team Award was given to her in appreciation for her contributions.
  • Her contributions to the aerospace industry were recognized with the 2017 Women Achievers in Aerospace Award from the Society of Indian Aerospace Technologies & Industries (SIATI).
  • Held the position of Mission Director for India’s Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission.
  • She served as the Deputy Operations Director for India’s Mangalyaan Mars Orbital Mission, which was very important.

Ritu’s Message for Women in STEM:

Despite belonging to a middle-class family and social pressure, with the support of her parents and her strong dream to pursue space exploration, Ritu Karidhal achieved what she believed and hoped for from her life. She has demonstrated for young girls and women who are considering a career in STEM that they are capable of overcoming any challenge and achieving any level of success with the right amount of confidence, passion, and support.

Related Post