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Muthayya Vanitha is an Indian electronics system engineer who has led projects on satellites at the Indian Space Research Organization. She is currently the project director of the Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission of the ISRO.

Muthayya Vanitha
Chennai, India
Years active1987–present
OrganizationIndian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

Early life and educationEdit

Vanitha is from Chennai, India and originally trained as a design engineer.[1][2]


Vanitha has worked at ISRO for over three decades.[2] She joined the ISRO as a junior engineer working in various areas of hardware testing and development.[2] She later succeeded to managerial positions, leading the Telemetry and Telecommand Divisions in the Digital Systems Group of ISRO Satellite Centre. She has also acted as deputy project director for several satellites including Cartosat-1, Oceansat-2, and Megha-Tropiques, where she was responsible for data operations.[3][4] Vanitha was also involved in the successful Mangalyaan mission to Mars in 2013.[3]


Vanitha was promoted from associate director to project director for ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission. She is the first woman to lead an interplanterary mission at the ISRO.[1] Previous Chandrayaan-1 project director,  Mylswamy Annadurai, who helped convince her to take on the role, said that her data handling, team management and problem solving skills made her the ideal person for this position.[5] Vanitha's responsibilities include ensuring complete oversight of the development and implementation of all systems and acting as a point of authority for the project.[6] The launch successfully occurred on 22 July 2019.[3] Unlike Chandrayaan-1, this new mission aims to land a probe on the Moon surface rather than orbit around it. If successful, it will investigate water, rock formations and moonquakes on the Moon's surface.[7][needs update]

Awards and honoursEdit

Vanitha received an award for Best Woman Scientist by the Astronomical Society of India in 2006.[1] She was also noted as one of five scientists to watch by Nature in 2019.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "Meet the 'Rocket Women of India' Who are Going to be Steering Chandrayaan-2". News18. 14 July 2019. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Sharma, Aditya (23 July 2019). "Muthayya Vanitha: ISRO's Rocket Woman Who Shattered the Glass Ceiling and Aimed for the Moon". News18. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Krishnan, Madhuvanti S. (2019-07-29). "Off to the moon". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2019-08-04.
  4. ^ "Ritu Karidhal and M Vanitha: Meet the two women leading Chandrayaan 2 team". Moneycontrol. Retrieved 2019-08-04.
  5. ^ Balakrishnan, Deepa (23 July 2019). "How ISRO's Former Director Had to Persuade Chandrayaan-2 Project Director to Take the Wheel". News18. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  6. ^ Johnson, T A (14 June 2019). "Two women steer moon mission: a 'simple girl' and an award winner". The Indian Express. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  7. ^ "India launches second Moon mission". 2019-07-22. Retrieved 2019-08-04.
  8. ^ "Nature's 10". Retrieved 2019-08-04.

External linksEdit