Ritu Karidhal is an Indian scientist working with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). She was a Deputy Operations Director to India's Mars orbital mission, Mangalyaan. She has been referred to as a "Rocket Woman" of India. She was born and brought up in Lucknow and is an aerospace engineer. She has also worked for many other earlier ISRO projects and served as Operations Director for some of these.
Early life and Family
Karidhal was born in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. She grew up in a middle class family which placed great emphasis on education. She has two brothers and two sisters. Her father was in defense services. Lack of resources and unavailability of coaching institutions and tuitions left her to rely only on her self motivation to succeed. As a child, she knew that her interest was in the space sciences. Gazing at the night sky for hours and thinking about outer space, she wondered about the moon, as to how it changes its shape and size; studied the stars and wanted to know what lay behind the dark space. In her teens, she started collecting newspaper cuttings about any space-related activity and kept track of the activities of ISRO and NASA.
Karidhal completed her graduation in Physics from University of Lucknow. She passed the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) exam, and joined Indian Institute of Science(IISc) to pursue her masters degree in Aerospace engineering.
Karidhal has worked for ISRO since 1997. She played a key role in the development of India's Mars Orbiter Mission, Mangalyaan, dealing with the detailing and the execution of the craft's onward autonomy system. She was also the Deputy Operations Director of this mission.
Mangalyan was one of the greatest achievement of ISRO. It made India the fourth country in the world to reach Mars. It was done in 10 months time and at far lesser cost to the taxpayers-450 crores only. Her job was to conceptualize and execute the craft's onward autonomy system, which operated the satellite’s functions independently in space and responded appropriately to malfunctions.
She is now working in the Chandrayaan 2 mission which seeks to send a rover to the moon’s surface and study lunar soil in 2019.
Karidhal has also presented at TED and TEDx events describing the success of the Mars Orbiter Mission.
Karidhal is married and has two young children, a son and daughter.