Baramati (Maharashtra): She has the distinction of perhaps being the first and only Indian Muslim girl selected as researcher at NASA – the privilege she earned against all odds. Back home on vacation, she wants to reach unreachable stars through the National Space Society (NSS) space outreach program.
Born and raised in Baramati, Karishma Inamdar, the 25-year-old “Rocket Scientist”, was selected in June 2015 as Research Associate to join a team of highly qualified and selected researchers at NASA Ames Research Center, California.
Karishma has struggled a lot to get into space research. Based on her experience, she now wants to guide students to do career in space.
“With the help of four of my friends, I have launched the National Space Society (NSS) International Chapter in India called Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Initiatives (DKI). The initiative will focus on space outreach and education”, she said while talking to ummid.com.
Urging each student of the country, especially the girl students, to participate in this space society chapter and engage in different activities run by this chapter, she said, “Space exploration is a challenge worth challenging, a goal worth achieving and best of all, a journey worth pursuing.”
“I want to reach (through her space outreach program) unreachable stars, no matter how far", Karishma, Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering graduate from Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Technological University, Lonere, said.
Karishma had always wanted to study in space technology and kept the fire of determination burning in her. When she was in 7th grade, the space shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, which killed all seven crew members. One of them was Kalpana Chawala, an Indian born American astronaut, who ignited her dreams about space.
She got partial scholarship from ISU to start her Master in Space Studies by September 2014. During her master studies she landed at the NASA (Ames Research Center) to perform research.
“If you want to achieve something, the whole universe conspires for you”, she said.
Karishma, a proud Indian who considers herself a ‘Global Citizen’, also has few words of advice for a better world. It is her dream not only to live to see the day humanity takes its baby steps off this planet, but rather, to also have played a major role in helping us achieve this lofty goals.
“As a space engineer and scientist, we have responsibility to inspire the next generation. Dr. Kalam Initiatives (DKI) is the platform to encourage, engage and educate all the students. While working with talented team of Dr. Kalam Initiatives (DKI), I realized we are not only working for students but also for humanity”, she said.
“You can see no boundaries from space. Our earth is just a pale blue dot. We humans created these boundaries - boundaries of religion, caste, race and gender. If everyone on this planet can see the view of earth from space, they will forget all the boundaries that we have created for ourselves”, she said.
“I am lucky enough to work in space industry and work for all humanity”, she added.
She believes that NASA has offered her a lot, and at the same time, she is confident that, under the guidance of the distinguished researchers, she will be able to make a positive contribution to on-going space research work. She loves work culture of NASA as they value your talent.
Interestingly, only a month after its establishment, Dr. Kalam Initiatives (DKI), Indian Chapter of National Space Society (NSS), USA organized a space-based contest on February 28, 2016 on the occasion of National Science Day to give an opportunity to the participants to aim for the Moon.
“Students from schools and colleges were invited to send space-themed creative drawings, essays and poetry. The response to the contest was overwhelming. We received entries from different parts of India and abroad”, she said.
Encouraging the students to participate in the program she once again urged them to have faith and build a strong career.
“Dream big and fight for your dreams. If you want to achieve something, it doesn’t matter from which background you are from. Convince your parents and society for your dreams, and first of all keep faith in you”, Karishma, who herself achieved her dream target because of the strong support from her parents, said.
“How far is far, how high is high, you will never know until you fly. Fly high and higher”, she added.