India is proud of Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams, who were the first two Indian-origin women astronauts to fly to space.
You’d be glad to know that Dr. Shawna Pandya, an Indo-Canadian space scientist, has also been a part of various ground space missions in the United States.
Dr Pandya, who was born in Canada, is a general physician with the Alberta University Hospital.
Apart from being a space scientist, she’s an author and loves Taekwondo.
She had previously interned at the Johnson Space Centre in NASA.
Dr Pandya has registered for two citizen scientist-astronaut programs (CSA) years ago.
She is part of research projects PoSSUM and the PHEnOM, that don’t actually involve going into space. PoSSUM is an acronym for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere. It involves imaging noctilucent clouds from a high-altitude balloon over Antarctica, as well as later using manned reusable suborbital vehicles to study the fine structures of the clouds during a week-long deployment.
PHEnOM stands for Physiological, Health, and Environmental Observations in Microgravity. It’s a project by the SeaSpace Exploration & Research Society’s SeaSpace Research Institute and focuses on studying the effects of microgravity on humans.
Both these projects are not tied to any space agency, but comes under SeaSpace Society.
Researchers of these projects also receive astronaut training, but the teams never leave Earth’s gravity entirely.
This means that despite being part of these projects, there is no guarantee of her being onboard the flights into upper altitudes.
She has clarified this in her Facebook post when numerous media reports indicated that she might be next in line as the third woman of Indian-origin to make her way into space.
32-year-old Pandya has her roots in Mumbai, where her grandmother currently lives in Mahalaxmi area.
(Note: The earlier version of this article was based on previous media reports. It has now been corrected to match her credentials according to her Facebook post.)