**Bhubaneswar: ** Refuting the claims of the reports that she has been shortlisted by NASA for a space mission and is the third Indian woman to be chosen for a NASA space mission after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams, 32-year-old Indian-origin astronaut Shawna Pandya has denied that she has been shortlisted by NASA for a space mission in a Facebook post.
She clearly mentioned in her FB post: “There has been no new announcement, flight assignment or selection of missions with respect to her work as a citizen-scientist astronaut with Project Possum or The PHEnOM Project, and I am no more or less likely to fly than any other member of than these projects than I was 24 hours ago. I remain, however, a steadfast, committed and dedicated teammate and crew member to the work of both projects.”
Ms Pandya in her post further clarified that her work was “separate from the work of the Canadian Space Agency and that of NASA, and should not be represented as such.”
“The Canadian Space Agency astronaut selection is ongoing and will be finalized this year; I am not a part of the selection. While I have previously interned at NASA-Johnson Space Center, I have no current affiliation with either organization, and would like to clarify that any reports or articles claiming as such are mistaken,” she posted.
Reports stated her to be a neuro-surgeon and an opera-singer but she refuted both such claims. According to her Facebook post,” Any articles stating that I am a neurosurgeon are mistaken. I previously trained in neurosurgery for a short period; however my medical license is in general practice. I am not an opera singer; I have sung opera on stage once. It went well and I would do it again; however just as boxing once does not a boxer make, neither does that one event make me an opera singer”.
“I look forward to continuing my work as a physician, speaker and citizen-scientist astronaut and aquanaut, and just as importantly, look forward to continuing my work with outreach and education about these projects,” she added.
Shawna Pandya is presently visiting her grandmother in Mumbai where she interacted with the students of Lilavatibai Podar High School.
According to her, ”The questions they asked me were brilliant, right from zero-gravity experiences to outer space. When I talk to students, medical undergraduates, I realise they have the zeal to venture out but aren’t always aware of the ways in which they can. All we need is to get acquainted with everyday developments in science, be resilient, and always try to achieve something bigger.”