When Vinita saw pictures of astronauts in her library books when she was five years old, she was immediately hooked on all things space. Her parents and teachers encouraged this fascination by encouraging her to tinker with things and to learn about technology. Her dad even helped her to take apart the TV!
At 11 years old, she printed out the NASA astronaut candidate requirements, stuck them in the front of her school folder, and told her physics teacher she was going to work in Mission Control. Now Vinita has fulfilled her dream by studying and working in the space industry in Spain, America, Russia, France, Germany and the UK.
First, she went to King’s College London to study Mathematics and Physics with Astrophysics. Then she completed the Space Studies Programme at the International Space University and gained a master’s degree in Space Management. She also has a master’s degree in Astronautics and Space Engineering from Cranfield University.
One of Vinita’s favourite space projects so far was working on a space suit design to protect astronauts from muscle and bone loss in space. It is called the SkinSuit and was designed to mimic the effects of gravity by squeezing an astronaut’s body, preventing their spine from painfully stretching by between five and seven centimetres. This European Space Agency space suit took almost 10 years to research and develop and has been worn onboard the station by astronauts since 2015.
She is now a space operations engineer based at the European Space Agency in the Netherlands, working on future human spaceflight projects. She works with colleagues in Russia developing training for astronauts to learn how to spacewalk and operate the new robotic arm, which will be launched into space soon.