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ISRO Scientist V R Lalithambika Awarded French Honour For Space Cooperation

The award was given to her by Ambassador of France to India, Thierry Mathou, on behalf of the French government, in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

Photo: Twitter/ISRO
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V R Lalithambika, former Director, Directorate of the Human Spaceflight Programme, ISRO, was conferred the top French civilian honour of Légion d'Honneur for her engagement in space cooperation between France and India.

The award was given to her by Ambassador of France to India, Thierry Mathou, on behalf of the French government, in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

Created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Légion d'Honneur (the Legion of Honour) is the highest civilian award given by the French Republic for outstanding service to France, regardless of the nationality of the recipients.

A specialist in advanced launch vehicle technology, Lalithambika, a distinguished scientist of ISRO, has worked extensively on various ISRO rockets, particularly the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), according to a press release issued by the Embassy of France in India.

In 2018, as Director of the Human Spaceflight Programme, she coordinated closely with the French National Space Agency (Centre national d'études spatiales - CNES) for India's Gaganyaan project.

Lalithambika was instrumental in signing of the first joint agreement for cooperation between CNES and ISRO on human spaceflight, under which the two countries could exchange specialists to work on space medicine.

In 2021, Lalithambika coordinated with CNES for the signing of a second agreement between France and India on the Indian astronaut programme during the visit of the former French Foreign Affairs Minister to ISRO, Bengaluru.

Under this agreement, the French space agency would train India's flight physicians and CAPCOM mission control teams in France at the CADMOS centre for the development of microgravity applications and space operations at CNES in Toulouse and at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany.

French Ambassador Mathou said, "I am delighted to confer the Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur on Dr V.R. Lalithambika, a distinguished scientist and a "trailblazer in" space technology. Her expertise, accomplishments, and tireless efforts have scripted a new ambitious chapter in the long history of the Indo-French space partnership." 

Receiving the award, Lalithambika said, "I sincerely hope that this honour being bestowed on me will spur more and more women to take up STEM careers and to excel in their chosen fields."

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