Subashini Iyer, a Coimbatore native, will be in charge of the rocket's core stage, or backbone, as the first phase of Artemis, Nasa's ambitious effort to carry a spacecraft into deep space, gets underway.
“It's been over 50 years since we last walked on the moon... We're preparing to return humanity to the moon and beyond, to Mars,” Iyer told TOI.
Artemis I will be the first of three difficult missions to explore the moon and Mars and will be an uncrewed flight of the spaceship Orion. In a three-week mission, Orion will go 280,000 miles (nearly 4,50,000 kilometers) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the moon.
It will gather data while mission commanders assess the spacecraft's performance in preparation for Artemis II, which would send a crewed spaceship to circle the moon. Artemis III will launch men to the moon in 2024.
As the lead of Boeing's launch integrated product team, Iyer is working on the Orbit Launch System (SLS), the component of the Artemis I that will launch Orion into space, which arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in late April.
She has been a member of SLS for two years. “Once the core stage is finished and handed over to Nasa, my duty is managing any assistance Nasa requires,” Iyer explained.
In 1992, Iyer was one of the first women to graduate from VLB Janakiammal College with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. She now supervises a multi-disciplinary team of mechanical and electrical engineers.
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