As India's first indigenously-developed Radar Imaging Satellite RISAT-1 nestled in its orbit hundreds of kilometres above the earth, here on terra firma, the woman from Tamil Nadu, responsible for the feat, too, turned into a star in her own right.

N. Valarmathi, ISRO's Bangalore-based Project Director for the space mission, was hounded by journalists and television crews, immediately after the post-launch press conference convened by the ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan, and his colleagues heading various centres, concluded.

For the next hour or so, Ms. Valarmathi was cordoned off by a media sold on celebrating her rise from her humble Ariyalur origins, to head one of ISRO's flagship satellite launches. The quizzing covered various aspects, from the technological prowess of RISAT-1, to her school days in Ariyalur.

Ms. Valarmathi (52) deemed the successful launch of RISAT-1, a project almost a decade in the making, a “proud moment”.

RISAT-1 featured an array of new technologies, such as the Synthetic Aperture Radar that penetrates cloud cover and takes images even during the night.

“It's a unique satellite, and carries many new technologies like very high data handling systems, high storage devices, and modulators,” she said.

The woman scientist, who has a passion for communication systems, joined ISRO in 1984, after a master's degree in engineering from Anna University. Immediately, she immersed herself in several exciting satellite projects.

Ms. Valarmathi is the second woman to be the satellite project director at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) after T. K. Anuradha, who headed the communication satellite GSAT-12 programme, but she is the first woman to head a remote sensing satellite project.