Not part of any NASA space mission: Indian-origin astronaut Shawna Pandya clarifies

It was recently reported that Shawna will be the third Indian-origin woman to fly in space.
Not part of any NASA space mission: Indian-origin astronaut Shawna Pandya clarifies
Not part of any NASA space mission: Indian-origin astronaut Shawna Pandya clarifies
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Indian-origin physician and citizen-scientist astronaut Shawna Pandya has said that she is not part of any NASA mission and that the possibility of her flying in space hasn't increased or decreased in the last 24 hours. 

It was recently reported by several media organisations that the 32-year-old Canada-born Shawna, who is currently in Mumbai, will be the third Indian woman to fly in space (after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams). 

In a Facebook post on Friday, Shawna first thanked people for their well-wishes and support, but then set out to clarify a "few misstatements" that have been doing the rounds. 

"There has been no new announcement, flight assignment or selection of missions with respect to my work as a citizen-scientist astronaut with Project Possum (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) or The PHEnOM Project (Physiological, Health, and Environmental Observations in Microgravity). I am no more or less likely to fly than any other member of 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," she wrote.

Shawna Pandya wth her mother (right); Source: Facebook

She said that while she had interned at NASA in the past, her current work is not related to and is not a part of any mission of the space agency.

"My work is 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."

The Canadian Space Agency had last year announced that it was accepting applications for two astronaut positions. Shawna is among the over 3,000 Canadians who applied for the posts.

Speaking about why she wants to become an astronaut, Shawna who has a master's in space sciences, had told CBC News, "When I was 10, I became obsessed with astronomy. All my junior high science projects or reports, they were all space related … I think the idea of doing something that's so adventurous and really pushes the bounds of exploration, and the fact that you'd get to space really, really resonated with me. I just love doing these things— I love exploration, I love adventure," she added.   

Several reports also called her a neurosurgeon and while she trained in neurosurgery for some time, she holds a medical licence in general practice.

She is also not an opera singer as some reports claimed. 

"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 concluded in her FB post. 

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