3rd In­dian-ori­gin woman in space has roots in city WHO IS SHAWNA PANDYA?

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Sadaguru Pan­dit sadaguru.pan­dit@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Dr Shawna Pandya is a neu­ro­sur­geon, work­ing as a gen­ral physi­cian Canada’s Al­berta Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal. She is also an as­tro­naut pre­par­ing for two space mis­sions. When they take off, she will be only the third woman of In­dian ori­gin, af­ter Kal­pana Chawla and Su­nita Wil­liams, to fly to space.

Born in Canada, the 32-year-old was one of two can­di­dates short­listed from 3,200 peo­ple af­ter top­ping the Cit­i­zen Sci­ence As­tro­naut (CSA) pro­gram. She will fly with eight other as­tro­nauts in space mis­sions slated to take off by 2018.

Pandya, cur­rently in Mum­bai to meet her fam­ily in their Ma­ha­laxmi home, said be­ing an as­tro­naut has been a pas­sion since she was a teen. But she loves medicine. She is also an opera singer, au­thor, in­ter­na­tional taek­wondo cham­pion and even trained in Muay Thai with a Navy SEAL. “If you pri­ori­tise your pas­sions and com­mit­ments, it’s won­der­ful how much you can achieve,” she told HT.

So, what is Pandya’s mis­sion in space? Pandya said she will do ex­per­i­ments in bio-medicine and med­i­cal sci­ence. She is part of a pro­ject called Po­lar Subor­bital Sci­ence in the Up­per Me­so­sphere (PoSSUM), which will study the ef­fects of cli­mate change. She will also work on Phys­i­o­log­i­cal, Health, and En­vi­ron­men­tal Ob­ser­va­tions in Mi­cro­grav­ity (PHEnOM), and is a prime crew mem­ber of Pro­ject Po­sei­don, a 100-day un­der­wa­ter mis­sion at the Aquarius Space For­mer US pres­i­dent Barack Obama on a kite-surf­ing out­ing with Bri­tish busi­ness­man Richard Bran­son at the lat­ter’s re­sort in the Bri­tish Virgin Is­lands. Re­search Fa­cil­ity in Florida.

While in Mum­bai, Dr Pandya has been giv­ing mo­ti­va­tional talks to res­i­dent doc­tors and stu­dents. “On Tues­day, I met stu­dents from Lilavat­i­bai Po­dar High School. The ques­tions they asked me were bril­liant, right from zero-grav­ity ex­pe­ri­ences to outer space.”


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