Reaching towards Mars | Sunday Observer

Reaching towards Mars

17 October, 2021
Kavindi De Silva
Kavindi De Silva

It was her childhood ambition to explore and conquer space. Since then, Kavindi De Silva has studied and worked on various topics related to astronomy and space.

She aspires to be a front-runner in her field, to inspire those aspiring to follow a career in astronomy & space and fulfilling her other interests.

Currently, working as the lead for global events at the Space Hero organization. She talks to Youth Observer on space, terraforming Mars and about dancing.

Q: What inspired you to study aerospace engineering, astronomy and space?

A: My love for space started at a very young age when I was about seven years old. It was simply through a science magazine where I saw a photograph of an astronaut performing the first-ever spacewalk. At that time, I had no idea about the concept of space let alone what an astronaut was. But that sight sparked so much curiosity and motivation in me that I set my dream to one day be in space too. Thereon I started creating opportunities not just for me but also for others to pursue space as a hobby, as a field of study, and now as a career! Meeting like-minded individuals with a similar drive like mine, meeting real-life astronauts like Buzz Aldrin, Soyeon Yi, Paulo Nespoli, Jeff Hoffman, Andre Kuipers, working and learning from space industry experts keeps me inspired. I still to date have that page of the astronaut from the science magazine with me!

Q: What are the projects you are working on?

A: I am currently involved with a global space and media company, called Space Hero, where the flagship project is to send the first global elected citizen to Space! This comes in the form of a competition series where finalists from all over the world will compete to overcome mental, physical, and psychological challenges - just like astronauts’ train, to win a ticket to go to the International Space Station for a 7-day mission. I am the Global Events lead and also work very closely with the CEOs on the day-to-day operations of the company.

I also work closely with the International Space University, where I recently received my master’s degree from. Last summer I was the External Relations Coordinator for the Space Studies Program held in Granada, Spain and I am also the project lead and co-organizer for TEDxISU.

Q: One of your keen interests is in the topic of terraforming Mars?

A: I believe that our future will head towards going to Mars and that in the next few decades it will be very normal for almost everyone to want to be an astronaut. In the light of this thought, learning more about the different aspects of how human beings behave in microgravity, the psychological, physiological challenges one has to encounter, how to grow food and sustain on another habitable planet, the ethics, and the laws behind interplanetary travel and civilizations will always have my undivided attention.

Q: How would you inspire those aspiring to take up aerospace engineering, astronomy, and other space-related pathways?

A: The best way to motivate and inspire someone is through sharing your journey not only the good things but also the struggles and the challenges you overcome, and the lessons you learned the hard way. It is not easy at all to formulate and pursue an educational or professional pathway that is not traditionally accepted - like astronomy, space, and aerospace engineering, especially if you are coming from a region of the world where you are born with societal and cultural limitations based on whether you are a girl or boy.

But what we don’t know is that there are so many opportunities out there, waiting for us to find them and make use of them. There are people and places that want to help you achieve bigger things in life. I never let the limits set by our society define me, and so shouldn’t anyone else who has dreams worth fighting for. Dream Big and Dream Loud.

Q: What do you want to achieve as an astronaut in the making?

A: I want to make people aware of the importance of understanding space. The benefits of studying space, how do you engage in space-related activities, investing time, money, and effort, how do you connect space to your communities, your country, your region through space applications. How do you communicate space to a general audience, why is it that important? My biggest achievement on the way to my dream come true would be to be able to create opportunities for communities to understand and pursue space.

Q: You seem to have several interests. What inspires your interests?

A: Apart from all things space I also have strong interests in Education & Outreach, Event management, and Dancing - performing or teaching! Working with kids, students, and young adults have always been something I enjoy doing. A few years ago I did work in the field of Education, mainly at the university level and also in early childhood development which I very much cherish up to date.

I have also managed events and projects in the US, Sri Lanka, Australia, The Netherlands, France and Spain that helped me discover many of my managerial and operational skills. And last but not least, Dancing. Dancing teaches you not only how to move, but also history, culture, language, control, and discipline. I love teaching zumba, salsa, and bachata in my spare time.