Thiruvananthapuram | Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman S Somanath on Tuesday expressed his wish for increased female representation in the nation's space missions.
He said this desire echoes the sentiments of the nation, including that of the Prime Minister.
During an event at the Pournami Kavu temple here, where Somanath initiated children into the world of letters as part of the Vidyarambam ceremony on Vijayadasami, he shared his expectation of seeing more female astronauts in ISRO's ambitious Gaganyaan mission.
Somanath clarified that as astronauts had already been selected and trained, participation of women won't be feasible in Gaganyaan's inaugural mission, which aims to send humans to space and bring them back safely to Earth.
However, he expressed optimism of greater female involvement in future Gaganyaan missions.
"More women astronauts in space missions is part of my wish list, and I only echoed the voice of the nation, including that of the Prime Minister," he told PTI.
On Sunday, the ISRO chairman had said the space agency prefers woman fighter test pilots or female scientists for its much-awaited human space flight programme-Gaganyaan- and it is possible to send them in future.
He had also said ISRO would send a female humanoid - a robot that resembles a human - on its unmanned Gaganyaan spacecraft next year.
The ambitious mission aims to send humans into space on a Low Earth Orbit of 400 km for three days and bring them safely back to Earth.
"No doubt about it...but we have to find out such possible (women) candidates in the future," Somanath told PTI over phone in response to a query.
Acknowledging his spiritual inclination, the ISRO Chairman engaged in prayers on Vijayadasami day.
After completing his prayers at the temple on Tuesday, Somanath sat down for more than 30 minutes to help toddlers write their first letters to mark the beginning of their education.
Somanath justified his participation, saying the ceremony has got nothing to do with religion but is only considered as the initiation to education.
"Alphabets are worshipped in this temple. We can see the alphabets of the Malayalam language displayed as Gods and Goddesses here and worshipped. So they belong to us as knowledge," Somanath said.
He said on the day of Vijayadasami, children are introduced to the domain of knowledge by gurus, who have already acquired something.
"So when they transfer that knowledge to the children, it is a blessing. So we transfer the blessing to them so that they can become great in the years to come," the ISRO chief said.
He said it is a blessing of spirituality from the gurus to the children to help them learn and understand about the whole universe.
Former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair and Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Director Unnikrishnan were also present in Pournami Kavu to help the children with Vidyarambam.
Shashi Tharoor, MP, took part in the Vidyarambam ceremony at Sree Saraswathy Devi Temple in Poojappura.