Ankita Joshi becomes the first woman in the world to paint in zero-gravity and Salman Khan happens to be the first personality being painted in space.
Salman Khan has often made paintings of his close industry friends and gifted it to them. But for a change here is a woman who has painted Salman Khan. And this is no common painting since it has been done in space in zero-gravity under conditions which are far from human. Ankita Joshi becomes the first woman in the world to paint in zero-gravity and Salman Khan happens to be the first personality being painted in space.
Ankita goes six years down the memory lane and explains when and how it all started. "During one of my meditation sessions, I felt afloat and thus I discovered the concept of zero gravity. I did some research on metaphysics which got me intrigued. I wanted to connect spirituality and metaphysics and being a student of arts I wanted to execute it in the form of paintings. That's when I decided that I wanted to paint in space in zero-gravity".
Under the guidance of Flight instructor Dr Howard Chipman and Former NASA and US Air Force trainer Veronique Koken, Ankita underwent rigourous training which astronauts have to go through. "I took my first flight from Florida and while normally one can do around 12 parabolas in one flight, I could finish 63 parabolas. In that time I could finish 8 paintings". Salman Khan was the first amongst her 8 paintings. "Since I am a huge fan of Salman Khan and have absolutely loved his film Dabangg too, I wanted to start with him. I painted Salman in zero-gravity within two parabolas of 8 seconds each". Now that makes for another world record – a Salman Khan painting in 16 seconds flat!
But it was not an easy ride for Ankita. "After sometime I started feeling sick both physically and mentally. Though I had undergone training, being a civilian and a woman, it was difficult to sustain the conditions in aerospace and we had to make an emergency landing. I was treated for an hour and asked if I was really sure to try the flight once again". But Ankita Joshi who had put 6 years of her life into this had no intentions of stepping back.
Painting in the space was not an easy task either. "Everything from the canvas to the crayon is floating. We tried to fix the canvas with rods but even that didn't help. Also I would constantly bang my head on the ceiling. The gravity that you experience there is 2.5 times that on earth and your skin and internal organs like kidney experience a downward pull. Though I was trained in a simulator for such conditions, your health can go for a complete toss", reveals Ankita about her first-of-its-kind experience.
It was not just a physically or mentally challenging experience for Ankita but she had to pay a big price for it as well. Literally! "I had to use special oil paints which were compressed in the form of a stick. And since the colours spoiled the interiors of the spacecraft, I had to pay an additional fine of 1000 dollars. This was in addition to Rs 15 lakhs that I had already paid for the entire training and flight. So, all the money that I have been saving to buy a house for myself has gone".
Ankita has now applied for the Guinness book of World Records for her exceptional feat. "I am the first woman in the world to paint in zero-gravity. The Guinness team has also sent me a contract and is doing their background research before they award me the title. Meanwhile I also want to apply for the Limca Records in India".
Finally ask her if Salman Khan is aware about the painting and she says, "I am not sure but I hope he knows this soon. And I would love to gift him the paintings".