INKHer Events for Women: TeamIndus Foundation Open House
- Back to Work, Events, Working Women
- 06 Jul 2018
So, we had heard the news across different print media about the discontinuity of the Google Lunar XPrize race, where TeamIndus was the only Indian team among the top five contenders for the $30 million prize challenge. However, TeamIndus has made it clear that it continues moon-wards despite no GLXP.
In a separate announcement, XPRIZE had also declared that they plan to continue the Lunar XPRIZE mission and are currently seeking a new title sponsor.
It was this “Curious Case of TeamIndus” that made me register for the 2-hour detailed Open House session held at their HQ in collaboration with INKHer. TeamIndus was celebrating the 55th anniversary of women in space as it was on June 16, 1963, aboard Vostok 6 when Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to travel into space.
The session started with the enthusiastic engineers of TeamIndus explaining the main structure of the spacecraft, the thermal system, and the propulsion system. All the parts used in the structure were displayed to the visitors.
The team is using aluminium-based honeycomb-shaped structures, which are efficient in absorbing impact, to enable a soft landing. Aluminium-honeycomb sandwiches are used in decks and some of us got a chance to step on a sample proving that it can withstand quite a lot of weight.
The next session was to understand the rover-ECA built by the Team. There was a lunar pit on which the engineers tested the 500m journey of the rover from its landing site.
The lunar surface is made of small dust particles, so the wheels of the rover have been designed to press the surface underneath and then move ahead. The final version of ECA weighs only around 7 kg and is powered by solar panels making it one of the lightest rovers which will be landing on the moon and be self-sufficient on the harsh lunar surface.
Along with the rover’s movement, command and telemetry, data processing, the guidance, navigation and control algorithms for the entire mission, everything is programmed by the talented young engineers of TeamIndus and is operated from this control centre.
After these sessions, we understood that there was a clear path chalked out for the mission. They continue to go after landing on the moon, after which there is a vision for offering lunar logistics services to institutions across the world.
It was in the control room where we got an opportunity to meet Mohini Parameshwaran, a former scientist at ISRO whose career spanned about 20 years and who has also worked at European Space Operations Centre for around 13 years. She is currently the Mission Control Systems Expert at TeamIndus. She retired from her space and aeronautics career but retirement could not stop her from continuing her guidance and mentoring for young engineers who wished to reach the moon.
From her college days, her only ambition was to work in space technology, so she applied to two major space and aeronautical operating centres – NAL and ISRO – and that’s how her career with ISRO began.
Women from the INKHer community were privileged to have an in-depth talk with Mohini Parameswaran over high tea. As the Q&A session started, one of the questions asked was about the mission cost. She recalled her first meeting with the TeamIndus leadership and said, “They told me the mission cost will be around ₹500 crore and I didn’t even know how many zeros were there in that amount!” We were pleasantly surprised by how such serious careers and people working in such assignments also had their lighter moments.
Male professionals leap forward in their careers but when it comes to women, it becomes more and more difficult with many complex factors, especially when they take a break and want to restart their careers! This is where JobsForHer enters the picture. INKHer (a JobsForHer Foundation & INK initiative) has been launched to help women start; restart and rise in their careers and this session for women was just the beginning of all that they plan to do with women in the workplace.
This was also highlighted when Mohini Parameswaran shared some of her life lessons. She spoke about some of the learnings from her career, negotiation skills, decision-making, and growth in one’s professional life.
Our interaction with Mohini Parameswaran showed us that she is a strong and inspirational woman who is the right person to mentor and guide young women who want to make their career in the space and aeronautics field.
By the end of the open house, we had been privy to an incredible technological design and a vision that has made the entire country proud. We wish TeamIndus all the very best to overcome every hurdle in their path and achieve success in their moon mission and beyond.