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Aathira Preetharani: Queer woman from Kerala on the way to becoming an astronaut

"Can a 24-year-old queer, visible minority, neurodiverse woman be an astronaut and a space entrepreneur?" asked Aathira Preetharani.

August 30, 2022 / 11:00 AM IST

As a woman, a queer and neurodiverse one at that, Aathira Preetharani is a visible minority in her field of choice – Astronautics. But the 24-year-old from Kerala is over the moon to have been selected for astronaut training by the International Institute of Astronautical Sciences.

She expressed her excitement in a LinkedIn post last month.

“Can a 24-year-old queer, visible minority, neurodiverse woman be an astronaut and a space entrepreneur? Hell yes! In Canada,” Preetharani wrote. “On my way to being an astronaut!”

The Thiruvananthapuram native recalled her early interest in astronomy that paved the way for her chosen career.

Preetharani’s love for the air started as a child, when her dad gifted her a toy airplane. She moved to Canada to study robotics at Algonquin College at the age of 18 with the help of a scholarship. At 23, she launched a space company called ExoGeo Aerospace. She is now on her way to astronaut training – no small feat for anyone.

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“To the 6-year-old that believed in all seriousness that she could be an astronaut, to the 18-year-old that uprooted herself to another country to pursue her dream of flying fighterjets and accessing space and to the 23-year-old that self taught herself and launched a space company, I am grateful for the determination,” she wrote.

Preetharani, who came out as bisexual last year, credits her husband for supporting her every step of her journey.
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first published: Aug 30, 2022 10:59 am
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