Inspirational Women

In Memoriam: India Mourns the Loss of Iconic ISRO Scientist N Valarmathi

In a somber and significant loss for India’s scientific community, N Valarmathi, a distinguished scientist associated with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has passed away. She suffered a heart attack and passed on Saturday evening, in Chennai.
Valarmathi had gained widespread recognition for her iconic role as the voice behind the rocket countdown launches, an emblematic start to numerous historic space missions. Her final and particularly poignant countdown announcement took place during the Chandrayaan-3 launch, an ambitious lunar endeavor that has been etched into the annals of space exploration.
Dr. P V Venkitakrishnan, a former Director at ISRO, conveyed his heartfelt condolences on social media, highlighting the palpable absence of Valarmathi’s resonant voice in forthcoming ISRO missions. Her unexpected demise, has left an unmistakable void within both the space agency and the hearts of those who held her in high esteem.
Valarmathi’s remarkable journey into the realm of space exploration commenced in Ariyalur, Tamil Nadu, her homestead. She pursued her academics at the Nirmala Girls Higher Secondary School before getting an engineering degree from the Government College of Technology in Coimbatore.
Her entry into ISRO in 1984 marked the initiation of a pivotal and influential career, during which she played a crucial role in various missions. Notably, she served as the project director for RISAT-1, India’s maiden indigenously developed Radar Imaging Satellite (RIS), and the nation’s second satellite of its kind.
Valarmathi’s enduring contributions to the field were acknowledged when she became the inaugural recipient of the Abdul Kalam Award in 2015. This prestigious honor, instituted by the Government of Tamil Nadu, commemorated the memory of former President Abdul Kalam and underscored Valarmathi’s significant impact on the scientific community.
Condolences have inundated social media platforms as the nation collectively mourns the loss of a genuine space pioneer.

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Hemlata Chouhan