Ritu Karidhal is an ISRO scientist. She was the Deputy Mission Director of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, which is popularly known as the Mangalyaan-1. She was in the spotlight when she was appointed as the Director of the Chandrayaan-2, which was successfully launched, and it also became the first space mission in the world to be headed by a woman. She is also known for leading Chandrayaan-3, India’s third moon mission; Chandrayaan-3 was launched from Satish Dhawan space centre in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota at 2.35 pm on 14 July 2023.
Ritu Karidhal was born on 13 April in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. She received her primary education from the St. Anjani’s Public School and the Navyug Kanya Vidyalaya in Lucknow. She pursued B.Sc from the Mahila Vidyalaya PG College in Lucknow. She did her M.Sc in Physics from Lucknow University.
After completing her M.Sc, she started her PhD in physics. Simultaneously, she also attempted the GATE examination.
While she was pursuing her doctorate, she was also a part-time lecturer at Lucknow University. She had published a paper in the first six months of her PhD. When 6 months of her PhD had passed, her GATE results were announced, and she was selected in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Ritu was in a dilemma; as she wanted to do research, and she did not know whether she should quit PhD and go to Bangalore. She consulted her physics professor, Manisha Gupta about this, and she advised her to go; as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Hence, she took admission in the Indian Institute of Science and pursued M.Tech in Aeroscience Engineering.
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Weight (approx.): 60 kg
Eye Colour: Black
Hair Colour: Dark Brown
Family & Husband
Ritu belongs to a middle-class family of Lucknow. Her parents passed away when Ritu was in college. She took care of her two younger brothers, Rohit Karidhal and Shubham Karidhal, and her younger sister, Varsha Lal. She got married to Avinash Srivastava. They have two children, Anisha and Aditya.
Ritu used to search for job openings in the newspaper in ISRO while she was pursuing M.Tech. Once, she found a job opening, and she applied for it. When she completed her M.Tech, she got a call from ISRO, and she was selected. Her first posting was at the U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) in ISRO. During her initial days, she used to be given tough assignments. Once in an interview, she stated that even though there were senior scientists available, she used to be given assignments with strict deadlines. She stated that she loved it; as it gave her confidence that she can handle tough projects.
Years passed by, and one day, her team was suddenly given the Magalyaan-1 project. She stated-
We had just finished a project and suddenly without warning, we were plunged headlong into the next one, but, this was to be the most exciting project I had worked on so far”
Once, she was asked in an interview about her role in Mangalyaan-1. She said-
My job was to conceptualise and ensure the execution of the craft’s onward autonomy system, which is the brain of the satellite, a software system coded in well enough to function on its own, determine what and when to detach, anything that needs to be infracted. If there’s a malfunction, the system needs to be designed well enough to correct and recover on its own in outer space”
10 months before the launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), her schedule had become very hectic. She used to come home from the office, help her children with their homework, complete her household chores, and then she used to work from midnight to 4 AM.
Ritu Karidhal was appointed as the Deputy Mission Director for the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). The Mangalyaan-1 launched successfully on 5 November 2013, at 09:08 UTC (Universal Coordinated Time).
Following her success as the Deputy Mission Director of Mangalyaan-1, Ritu was appointed as the Mission Director of Chandrayaan-2. The Chandrayaan-2 was launched successfully on 22 July 2019, at 02:43 PM (IST). She was congratulated and praised across the world. Chandrayaan -2 was the first space mission which was headed by women as the Mission and the Project Director and it was a major achievement for India.
Honours, Awards, and Achievements
- The Young Scientist Award by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in 2007.
- The ISRO Team Award for the Mars Orbiter Mission in 2015.
- “Woman Achievers in Aerospace” Award by the Society of Indian Aerospace Technologies & Industries (SIATI) in 2017.
- The “Birla Sun Achievement” Award by the Bank of Baroda
- As a student, Ritu loved mathematics. During her school days, she often used to write poems about mathematics. Once, in an interview, she stated that during her school days, she used to imagine herself being surrounded by numbers.
- On 3 March 2019, Ritu was invited for the TEDx event in Hyderabad. She attended and spoke about the successful launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).
- Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan was also present at the TEDx event. He met Ritu Karidhal, and he stated that it was an honour for him to meet her.
- Ritu wants more women to join the field of space sciences and more women to win Nobel Prizes in Physics.