Shawna Pandya to become third Indian-origin woman in space

In the Facebook post, Pandya clarified she was not a neurosurgeon nor an accomplished opera singer. Photograph:( Twitter )

WION Mumbai, Maharashtra, India Feb 10, 2017, 02.59 AM (IST)

Shawna Pandya, a 32-year-old Indian-origin neurosurgeon based in Canada has been shortlisted for NASA's Citizen Science Astronaut (CSA) programme 2018 mission. 

With roots in Mumbai, where her grandmother resides the general physician with Alberta University Hospital could follow in the footsteps of Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams to be third Indian-origin woman in space. 

Pandya is also an accomplished opera singer, a taekwondo champion and has also trained in Muay Thai with a Navy SEAL. 

"I am being trained as a citizen scientist and there are some 120 who would be part of the space mission. The experiments in biomedicine and medical science along with physiological, health, and environmental observations in Microgravity (PHEnOM) are also part of it. The work is distributed among the participants.", Dr Pandya said. 

"I am also in the team working for a project called Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere (PoSSUM), which will study the effects of climate change."

"There has been a lot of support from my family, including my mother. They were well aware of my dreams since childhood and now also they are supporting to my journey," she added. 

She completed her B.Sc in neuroscience at University of Alberta, then pursued M.Sc. in space science from International Space University. She completed her MD also from the University of Alberta. 

She applied for medical school and the space programme at the same time. 

The mission is expected to start by early 2018. 

(WION with inputs from PTI)