NASA picks Indian-origin Athira Preetha Rani for its Astronaut Training Program

A 24-year-old Indian-origin woman with roots in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for their astronaut training program. 

Athira Preetha Rani had always been interested in space and astronauts ever since she was studying in school. Her knowledge widened when she began attending the classes of Astra, an astronomical society in Kerala’s capital city.  

According to, she got in at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada, at a young age, studied robotics and was on a scholarship. But she wanted to become a pilot. So, when she heard that one does not need to join the Air Force to become a pilot, she saved money for training. She also completed her robotics course with good grades. 

This is the time she also got married. After this, she and her husband began a startup in Canada for research related to space studies. Months ago, they started the Exo Geo Aerospace company too. She started enquiring about various astronaut training programs.  

She was then selected for the astronaut training program conducted by the International Institute of Astronautical Science. The training program is jointly run by NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the National Research Council of Canada. She went through various stages including medical tests.  

People from various parts of the world have been selected for this program which will continue for three to five years.  

If Athira completes the training, she will be the third Indian woman after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams to go to space. 

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