Ritu Karidhal, A Mom of 2 from Lucknow becomes the rocket woman of India.

Chandrayaan Mission Spearheaded by Women Scientists.

Women, in India have a come a long way. From frying puris in the kitchen to firing rockets in space and from managing households to spearheading space programs for our country’s highly esteemed Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Women are breaking glass ceilings left, right and Centre. And this was just what the doctor ordered for millions of girls in schools and colleges in our country looking for answers. Women who Inspire them!

India, successfully launched Chandrayaan-3 on July 14th. Chandrayaan mission has marked a significant milestone in the country’s space exploration endeavors. This mission is particularly remarkable because of the substantial contribution and leadership of women scientists who played a pivotal role in its success. Ritu Karidhal Srivastava, popularly known as the Rocket woman of India, is leading mission Chandrayaan-3. 

Empowering Women in Science:

“There is no limit to what we, as women can accomplish”. – Michelle Obama rightly emphasizing the importance of women leaders in the world. The Indian Space Program witnessed awe-inspiring transformation, thanks to the brilliance of many women scientists who have shattered stereotypes and conquered the skies.

Often nurtured amidst humble backgrounds, these women scientists never allowed societal norms to bind their ambitions. Fueled by curiosity and passion, they broke through barriers, proving that science knows no gender boundaries.

Over the years, ISRO has taken significant steps to bridge the gender gap in the field of space research, leading to an increased representation of women in key roles. In total, 58 women scientists were involved in this remarkable achievement.

Leading the Mission: Dr. Muthayya Vanitha

Dr. Muthayya Vanitha, a renowned aerospace engineer, played a vital role in leading the Chandrayaan-1 mission. As the Project Director, she was responsible for overseeing various stages of the mission, from its conceptualization to its launch. Dr. Vanitha’s exceptional leadership and technical expertise were instrumental in ensuring the success of Chandrayaan-1, making her the first woman Project Director at ISRO.

Apart from leadership roles, numerous women scientists were involved in the scientific aspects of the mission. They were responsible for analysing the data obtained from the moon, identifying different surface features, and interpreting the lunar mineralogy. Their valuable contributions enriched India’s knowledge of the lunar environment and paved the way for future missions.

The Rocket Woman of India-Dr. Ritu Karidhal

Ritu Karidhal was born in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. She grew up in a middle-class family that valued education highly. Youngest of four siblings, Ritu had a deep love for mathematics during her school days. She would often write poems about mathematics, immersing herself in the world of numbers. Collecting news articles related to any space activities by ISRO or NASA was one of her hobbies.

Karidhal received her Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Lucknow. She earned her M. Sc. in Physics from the University of Lucknow and was accepted into the Physics Department’s doctoral programme. She spent six months as a research scholar at Lucknow University. She enrolled to IISc in Bangalore to obtain a master’s degree in aerospace engineering.

She always had the fascination about space, an urge to do something different from a normal trend. Ritu searched for job openings at ISRO, in the newspaper while pursuing her M.Tech. She found a job opening and applied for it. Ritu received a call from ISRO and was selected. The dream of joining the space agency came true in November, 1997.

Ritu is married to Avinash Srivastava, who is an M.Tech and she has 2 children, Aditya and Anisha.

On 3 March 2019, Ritu was invited to the TEDx event in Hyderabad.

At the event, she delivered a speech highlighting the successful launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission. Ritu received the Young Scientist Award from Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam in 2007. She has been a recipient of many such awards.

Dr. Ritu Karidhal, the “Rocket Woman of India,” played a crucial role in leading the navigation and communication aspects of Chandrayaan-2. Her expertise and dedication were evident in the mission’s successful insertion into lunar orbit and the meticulous planning for the landing on the moon’s south pole.

Ritu led the latest Chandarayan-3 mission, our third moon exploration mission with an objective to explore the south pole of the moon.

Inspiring Future Generations:

The participation of women scientists in the Chandrayaan missions has had a profound impact on India’s scientific community and society as a whole. Their success has shattered gender stereotypes, inspiring young women to pursue careers in science and engineering fields. The increased representation of women in space research not only fosters gender equality but also enhances the diversity of perspectives and ideas in scientific endeavors.


Like stars that shine brighter against the darkest skies, these women persisted with unwavering determination. Their triumphs over adversity stand as a testament to the human spirit’s resilience and the power of self-belief.

Behind the accolades and scientific achievements, these women manage the delicate act of balancing personal and professional lives. The challenges of motherhood and societal expectations don’t deter them. Their ability to embrace both roles with love and dedication is a testament to their strength.

India’s Chandrayaan missions have been pivotal in the nation’s pursuit of space exploration. The significant contributions and leadership of women scientists have played a crucial role in the success of these missions. Dr. Muthayya Vanitha and Dr. Ritu Karidhal, along with numerous other women scientists, have shown exemplary dedication, knowledge, and expertise in advancing India’s space research capabilities.

As India continues to explore the cosmos, the legacy of these women scientists will remain an inspiration for generations to come. Wishing them stars and galaxies for their future!!

By Nidhi Singh