Women at the forefront of India’s space missions – first Chandrayaan-3 and now Aditya-L1 - is an unprecedented phenomenon for the rest of the world. The reality that a Muslim woman scientist - Nigar Shaji - is the Director of the solar mission of the Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) Aditya L1 which is on its way to space to observe the Sun, has left everyone awestruck.
Donning a cotton Salvar-kameez, Nigar Shaji was her usual humble self while briefing the assembled media persons about the Mission soon after the successful launch of Aditya-L1 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
Nigar Shaji, 59, belongs to Shengottai, a town 55 km from Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai, Daughter of a farmer, Nigar Shaji has been working with the ISRO as a scientist for 35 years.
She is the project director of the ambitious Aditya-L1, India’s first space-based mission deployed to study the Sun.
Speaking to local media, Shaji’s brother S Sheik Saleem said Shaji completed her schooling in English medium at the Shengottai government higher secondary school.
She did her graduation in engineering from the Tirunelveli government engineering college and joined ISRO in 1987.
Nigar Shaji lives with her mother and daughter in Bengaluru while her husband, who is an engineer, works in Dubai, UAE.
Her son is a scientist working in the Netherlands.
ISRO said Nigar Shaji has held different various positions in the Indian Remote Sensing, Communications and Interplanetary Satellite Programme.
It may be recalled that two women played a key role in the Chandrayaan-2 mission viz., the Project Director M.Vanitha and the Mission Director Ritu Karidhal Srivastava.
Similarly, in the case of Chandrayaan-3, Kalpana, the Deputy Director played a key role.
Nighat Shaji was also involved in Chandrayaan-3 missions.
After the successful launch of Aditya L1, Nigar Shaji thanked ISRO Chief S Somnath and the directors for trusting his team.
Nigar said, “I feel honored and proud to be a part of this mission. For my team, a successful launch is a dream come true.”