Telugu girl set for a big stride towards her dream space odyssey

Kunchala Kyvalya Reddy
| Photo Credit: K.V.S. Giri

Kunchala Kyvalya Reddy can’t wait for November when she will embark on an exciting week-long space programme at Huntsville, Alabama in the U.S. and come face-to-face with expert engineers of the aerospace industry.

Ms. Kyvalya is an Intermediate first year student from Nidadavolu in East Godavari district and she has been selected to be part of the International Air and Space Programme (IASP) 2023, a challenging educational programme scheduled to be held from November 12 to 18 at different NASA facilities where students work on a project that involves team work, problem-solving and new modes of communication.

“I am excited about the idea of being part of student groups who would work under the guidance of their respective mentors to carry out tasks, engage in group collaboration, establish objectives and set budgets as the aerospace industry does in the real life,” the wannabe astronaut told The Hindu.


The selected students will be trained like astronauts, experience neutral buoyancy, comprehend the role that the International Space Station plays in the global community and complete their own piloting experience.

The teenager traces her fascination for the great unknown world to her childhood. “When I was in the second grade, I saw a photograph of women astronauts Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams on the cover of a book and asked my mother about them and ever since, they are my inspiration,” she says, explaining about how she started evincing more interest in astronomy in her growing years.

In the sixth grade, she enrolled her name with the Delhi-based NGO Spaceport India Foundation (SIF) and learnt more about astronomy and robotry under the mentorship of Sameer Sachdeva, the founder of the organisation.

Equipped with the membership of SIF, Ms. Kyvalya conducted classes for children in her rural neighbourhood, sharing fascinating tales of the space and its mysterious aspects.


The IASP 2023 is being organised by Mexican space agency Aexa Aerospace where the participants will interact with experts in the field in online mode and the project will culminate in a visit to the U.S. Space and Rocket Centre where students will present their projects to a panel of judges and hear from STEM and aerospace speakers.

Team members of the winning projects will be awarded special prizes and will receive a certificate of completion at the special graduation ceremony. “If Kyvalya completes this programme, she will be the youngest Indian to do so,” says the girl’s mother.

At the moment, Ms. Kyvalya has her fingers crossed. “This is a rare opportunity. I also see this as the first step towards my ambition to become an astronaut,” she says, emphasising: “I’ll do my best and will make India proud.”

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