Canadian general physician of Indian origin Dr Shawna Pandya on Friday clarified that reports claiming she had been selected to fly to space in 2018 were incorrect. On Facebook, she said there had been “no new announcement, flight assignment or selection of missions” with respect to her work with the Citizen Science Astronaut programme.
Pandya is part of Project PoSSUM – Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere – and 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,” she said, adding that she remained “a steadfast, committed and dedicated teammate and crew member to the work of both projects”.
The citizen-scientist astronaut also clarified that her work was separate from that of the Canadian Space Agency, which has been confused with the Citizen Science Astronaut programme. She further said that she was no longer affiliated with any programme of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The 32-year-old went on to clarify that she was neither a neurosurgeon, as several reports claimed, nor an opera singer.
Reports on Thursday said that Pandya was set to be only the third woman of Indian origin to fly to space after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams. Besides Project PoSSUM and The PHEnOM Project, she is also a key member of Project Poseidon, a 100-day underwater expedition at the Aquarius Space Research Facility in Florida.