Indian-origin astronaut clarifies on Facebook: Not part of Nasa mission, not a neurosurgeon or an opera singer

On Friday, Indian-origin astronaut Shawna Pandya, who has been the subject of much media attention since Thursday, issued a few clarifications regarding her work and credentials: she denied being shortlisted by Nasa for its 2018 space mission under the Citizen Science Astronaut (CSA) programme, clarified that she was not, in fact, an opera singer (having only sung opera on stage once) and stated that those who reported she was a neurosurgeon had erred — she trained in neurosurgery for a short period, but she was a general physician.

Taking to Facebook, Pandya said she wanted to clarify after noticing more than a few misstatements in the reports. She said, "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."

On Thursday, the Economic  Times reported that Pandya, 32, was a neurosurgeon from Alberta, Canada, and would soon become the third woman of Indian origin to fly in space after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams. The Times of India reported that Pandya had been shortlisted by Nasa for its 2018 space mission, while DNA reported that she was an opera singer.

Pandya ended her post by saying that she looked forward to continuing her work as a physician, speaker and citizen-scientist astronaut and aquanaut and continuing outreach and education regarding these projects.


Updated Date: Feb 10, 2017 20:20 PM

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