Kerala Born Aathira Preetharani May Be Next Indian Woman To Fly To Space

Aathira Preetharani, a young space entrepreneur from Kerala and currently based in Canada, has been selected for Project PoSSUM, an astronaut training program by the International Institute of Astronautical Sciences (IIAS). The 24-year-old could potentially become the third Indian-origin woman astronaut after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams to fly to space after completing the program.

Aathira’s love for fighter jets and rockets began at a young age, and she learned more about space through Aastro, an amateur astronomers’ society in Thiruvananthapuram. It was there that she met her future husband, Gokul. She was selected under Project PoSSUM, an aeronomy research program which trains people to become citizen astronauts to carry out valuable research activities in space.

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Kerala Born Aathira Preetharani May Be Next Indian Woman To Fly To Space

Before joining the program at Florida Tech in the USA, Aathira was honing her skills as a fighter pilot. She shared her experience of flying a fighter jet for the first time in a LinkedIn post last week, stating, “I was an obsessed kid growing up. Obsessed with fighter jets and rockets while all my classmates had more interesting things to share and find common ground on. The fighter jets and rockets were a solace.”

As the Indian air force had not yet inducted women fighter pilots, Aathira decided to move to Canada and fly fighter jets. She moved to Canada for undergraduate studies on a scholarship and started saving up for flying lessons. As a neurodiverse, queer immigrant, she found it hard to get medical support, but after two years of hardship, she was cleared to fly a fighter jet.

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Kerala Born Aathira Preetharani May Be Next Indian Woman To Fly To Space

Aathira also runs a space company called ExoGeo Aerospace Inc, which is working toward reducing the space debris problem that the industry faces. They are also developing ways to make space travel sustainable. “Many countries are reaching out to startups like ours for ways to map the space debris and find a solution to address it. Our company would be designing, manufacturing and sending up the space tugs for the purpose,” said Aathira.

Aathira’s selection for the astronaut training program is a great achievement and an inspiration for aspiring astronauts worldwide. This Indian woman exemplifies perseverance and hard work, paving the way for future generations to dream big and reach for the stars.

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Rishika Sunit
Hi there! I'm Rishika. When it comes to scribbling, I reckon words have more muscle than Popeye! I love to educate, tickle the funny bone, and get folks all fired up. And let me tell you, turning big-brain stuff into simple, easy-to-digest sentences is my superpower! I'm thrilled to have this space to connect with like-minded individuals and to continue learning and growing together. Thank you for visiting my page!

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