NEW DELHI: First there was Kalpana Chawla, the Indian-American astronaut whose roots were in Karnal, Haryana. Now there’s 19-year-old Ashish Yadav from the state’s backwater town of Narnaul who’s on his way to the National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA) of the United States. Yadav is among the three students selected from India for a three-year astronaut training programme in America, the entire cost of which will be taken care of by NASA. Yadav leaves next month.
“My dream was to go into space since childhood and that’s why I took physics, chemistry and biology with mathematics as subjects in high school,” says the astronaut- in- the- making. “Initially, I had set a target for myself to become a doctor, inspired by my cousin brother who is a doctor.
I appeared for Pre Medical Examination (PMT) this year after completing Class 12th with 84 per cent marks from Saraswati Vidya Mandir Higher Secondary School in Nangal Chaudhry village of Mahendragarh district. I was ranked 37th in India,” says Yadav.
Just the beginning
That was just the beginning for this bright young man.
“Since mathematics is also my optional subject, I appeared for the IIT entrance exam this year. I got an All-India rank of 112.
I was interested more in medical science and had zeroed in on the All India Institute of Medical sciences (AIIMS),” he says.
Yadav also cleared the Indian Institute of Space Aeronautics and Technology (IISAT) competition organised by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). “When I get selected for ISRO, I decided to choose this as a career and become an astronaut,” Yadav explains.
NASA selects aspiring astronauts on the basis of tests conducted by space institutions of various countries. This year, NASA has selected 10 students from across the world , including three from India. The other two are from Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, with Yadav in the first position.
“I appeared for a written examination to get selected in NASA followed by six interviews held at ISRO office in Delhi. I was quite nervous when facing NASA scientists for the first time but became comfortable later. The NASA scientists had suggested after the sixth interview on September 3 that I would be selected for their astronaut training programme and they sent me an email a day later confirming my selection,” says Yadav.
Yadav has been a model student since childhood. “My son has very good knowledge of all subjects. While he was studying in Class 2 in his native village Dhaulera, he used solve the questions of higher classes.
I then decided to provide him good education in the city school despite our limited resources. My husband, serving at a lower rank in the Army, was the only earning member in my family,” says Yadav’s mother Suman.
“As Narnaul is the nearest city and our district headquarter is at Mahendragarh, we had to move to the city and rent out a room so Ashish could get a quality education. He used to study six hours every day on an average apart from his school hours,” Suman adds.
Her husband, Radhe Shyam Yadav, got a job with the bomb disposal squad of the Delhi Police after he retired from the Army.
“I never thought he would achieve so such.
This is a dream come true for any father. I am quite satisfied with my son’s achievement and I hope that he will serve the nation after completing his NASA training programme,” Radhe Shyam says. “Some of the noted previous astronauts of Indian origin such as Kalpana Chawla or Sunita Williams were born in the US but Ashish has got on the same page as them while living and studying in a backward city of Haryana,” he adds with obvious pride.
Ashish Yadav has been honoured with the Pratibha Samman by Haryana government, Chief Minister Ashish came 37th in the all-Indian Pre- Medical Examination and 112th in the IIT exam this year
Minister Bhupendra Singh Hooda personally presenting him with a cheque for ` 1.5 lakh. Yadav gives credit to his family members but his role model is former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
“Kalam sir had worked for the country as scientist and become President of India. I want to be like him,” says Yadav.