Vinita Marwaha Madil
Buckland Primary School, Surrey (1990), Our Lady Immaculate RC Primary School (1990-1998), Tolworth Girls’ School (1998-2005), King’s College London (2005-2008), International Space University (ISU) (2008 & 2009-2010), Cranfield University (2008-2009).
BSc Mathematics and Physics with Astrophysics at King’s College London, Space Studies Programme (SSP) at International Space University (ISU-2008), MSc Astronautics and Space Engineering at Cranfield University, MSc Space Management at International Space University (ISU)
Space Operations Engineer (ESA - via TERMA B.V.), Founder – Rocket Women, PR & Communications Team Co-Lead at Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) in Support of the UN Programme on Space Applications, Engineering Manager-Intelligent Transportation Systems at Miovision Technologies (Canada), ISS Payload Operations Engineer at DLR (German Aerospace Centre), Trainee at European Space Agency (ESA), Research Assistant at King’s College London.
Space Operations Engineer, ESA (via TERMA B.V.) & Founder, Rocket Women
European Space Agency (ESA) – via TERMA B.V.
I'm a Space Operations Engineer at the European Space Agency (ESA) through TERMA B.V. where I work on future human spaceflight missions. I'm also the Founder of Rocket Women, which aims to inspire the next generation of women in STEM!
My name is Vinita Marwaha Madill and I’m based at the European Space Agency (ESA) (via Terma B.V.) as a Space Operations Engineer where I’m focused on future human spaceflight operations. I previously worked at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) to guide astronauts through experiments onboard the International Space Station (ISS). At ESA’s European Astronaut Centre, I helped design the SkinSuit and conducted a study on future lunar spacesuit design, operations and EVA training.
I studied Mathematics and Physics with Astrophysics at King’s College London followed by the International Space University’s (ISU) Space Studies Program in Barcelona, Spain. I went on to gain master’s degrees in Astronautics and Space Engineering from Cranfield University and in Space Management from the International Space University (ISU).
I’m an advocate for STEM outreach, founding the platform Rocket Women that aims to inspire young women to study STEM. Based in Canada, I was fortunate to take part in an intimate round table discussion with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, highlighting the importance of education and feature in an Instagram campaign of the same cause. Through Rocket Women, I work closely with the Royal Academy of Engineering, supporting school teachers and students to learn about space research and careers.
My favourite TV shows of all time are Stargate SG-1 / Stargate Atlantis. Watching Samantha Carter on TV every week showed me that studying astrophysics and being a successful scientist & engineer was possible as a woman. Fictional role models can be as influential as those in real-life! I also like the Arrow-universe TV shows: Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and the new Star Trek Discovery.
I plan operations at the European Space Agency (ESA) for future human spaceflight projects, including the European Robotic Arm, a new robotic arm for the International Space Station (ISS) and work on astronaut/cosmonaut training.
I’m a Space Operations Engineer at the European Space Agency (ESA) (through TERMA B.V.) for future human spaceflight missions, including the European Robotic Arm to be launched to the ISS. I’m also the founder of a website called Rocket Women, which inspires young women to consider a career in STEM. Prior to becoming a consultant, I worked as an ISS Operations Engineer at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and at the European Space Agency (ESA) focusing on spacesuit design & EVA (spacewalk) training.
The goal of Rocket Women, is to inspire young women globally to consider a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) and also provide advice to women currently working in the industry.
To encourage more girls to consider STEM you also need to inspire them when they’re young and provide them with tangible, visible role models. I remember being an enthralled six-year-old when I learned that the first British astronaut, chemist Helen Sharman flew to the Mir space station. She was, although I didn’t know it yet, a role model to me. She showed me at a young age that my dreams were possible and I went on to work in human spaceflight. I started Rocket Women to give these role models a voice and a platform to spread their advice. I’m interviewing women around the world in STEM, particularly in space, and posting the interviews on Rocket Women, along with advice to encourage girls to be involved in STEM.
My Typical Day
My typical day could vary from developing astronaut/cosmonaut (Russian astronaut) spacewalk (or EVA) training with colleagues in Russia, to creating and testing missions for the astronauts to control the robotic arm at ESA.
As an Operations Engineer I work on developing the operations for the project, including preparing a smaller version of Mission Control at ESA’s technology centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, and astronaut training. My typical day could vary from developing astronaut/cosmonaut (Russian astronaut) spacewalk (or EVA) training with colleagues in Russia, to creating and testing missions for the astronauts to control the robotic arm at ESA. Once the robotic arm is launched I’ll be working on-console at ESTEC and from Mission Control in Moscow on robotic arm operations and supporting the spacewalks conducted by the astronauts and cosmonauts onboard the ISS.
Having wanted to work in the space industry since I was young, working at the European Space Agency (through TERMA B.V.) is a dream come true. The environment at ESA is extremely international and I enjoy being able to work with colleagues from all around the world to design future human spaceflight projects.
What I'd do with the money
Inspire students at schools throughout the UK by travelling to schools to carry out talks about the impact you can have through a career in science and space
Along with travelling to schools myself, a series of interviews with women working in the UK space industry could be carried out, recorded on video or audio, along with a series of publications and leaflets to be distributed to schools. These real life engineers and I would visit the schools to provide talks regarding their career, providing tangible examples to young girls alongside necessary interaction with women in the space industry. This would bring awareness of the work carried out by UK scientists, engineers and others in STEM to young girls. The leaflets can be published through digital media channels and made available as educational resources for both teachers and students.
Interactions with these role models will provide students with examples to look up to when they’re making the most critical decisions in their education. Helping to improve gender diversity in the UK space industry in particular will not only mitigate the UK talent shortage of women in technical roles, but ensure that there will be role models for future generations to look up to and aim towards.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Space-Geek, Creative, Determined
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Contributed to the development of ESA's SkinSuit, now used onboard the ISS to help to improve spinal health and as a countermeasure
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Helen Sharman, first British astronaut
What was your favourite subject at school?
Biology and Physics
What did you want to be after you left school?
An ISS Operations Engineer. I told my Physics teacher in Year 7 that I wanted to work in NASA’s Mission Control. He and my science teachers supported my dream throughout my education and I was lucky enough to work on ISS operations 12 years later!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not too much. I’ve always been passionate about space and was lucky that was goal was supported throughout school.
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Training astronauts and working on spacesuit design! Apart from space, I’ve been fortunate to have spent 10 months travelling in 2015 in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.