Shawna Pandya To Become Third Indian-Origin Woman To Fly In Space

A neurosurgeon, an international Taekwondo champion, opera singer and soon-to-be an astronaut, Shawna Pandya has now qualified to fly for NASA for two space missions. The modern-day explorer will soon become the third Indian-origin woman after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams to fly into space. Pandya has also been a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, walked the runway as a model, given a TEDx talk about resilience and even learned Muay Thai from a Navy Seal. Dr Pandya, who was born in Canada, is a general physician with the Alberta University Hospital. She has her roots in Mumbai, where her grandmother currently lives in Mahalaxmi area. Dr Pandya, who is in Mumbai holding talks with medical professionals, was shortlisted after securing top score in the CSA programme. Besides being passionate about becoming a doctor and an astronaut since her childhood, she is also an opera singer, an international champion in taekwondo and has also done her training in Muay Thai with a Navy SEAL, as per her bio-data. The mission is expected to start by early 2018 and there has been talks going on with various companies regarding the mission and necessary arrangements for the same. Dr Pandya completed her B.Sc in neuroscience at University of Alberta, followed by M.Sc. in space sciences at International Space University. Thereafter, she did her MD in Medicine from University of Alberta. She then applied for medical school as well as for the space programme at the same time.The 32-year old was one of the two candidates shortlisted after acing the Citizen Science Astronaut (CSA) program. The mission is scheduled to take off by 2018 with eight other astronauts. Pandya mentions that she will perform bio-medical and medical science experiments, and also work on Physiological, Health and Environmental Observations in Microgravity (PHEnOM). She is a part of a project called Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere (PoSSUM). The programme will study the effects of climate change. Astronauts will be sent in suborbital flights to study the clouds. She is also a major crew member of Project Poseidon, which is a 100-day underwater mission at the Aquarius Space Research Facility in Florida.

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