Kalpana Chawla

The first Indian woman in space , Kalpna Chawla was born on July 1 1961 to parents Banarasi Lal Chawla and Sanjyothi Chawla . She was the youngest of the four children . Kalpna means idea or imagination . Her interest in flight was inspired by J.R.D Tata , India’s first pilot . Chawla was a strict vegetarian . She completed her basic education at Tagore public school in Karnal ,Haryana . In 1982 , she graduated with her Bachelor Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering college in Chandigarh . Kalpana Chawla moved to U.S.A after her graduation. In 1984 she graduated with M.S. Degree in aerospace degree from the University of Texas at Arlington . Two years later Kalpana Chawla graduated with a second M.S. Degree and a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1988. Chawla joined NASA Astronaut Corps in march 1995 and was selected for her first flight in 1996 . A year later in November her first space mission began as a part of a six member crew that flew the space shuttle ‘Columbia Flight STS-87’ . After completing her post flight activities of flight STS-87 Kalpana Chawla was given a technical position in the astronaut office to work on the space station for which she was recognized and awarded . In the year 2000 Chawla was selected for her second space flight as part of STS-107 . Unfortunately the mission was repeatedly delayed due to technical problems . Finally in January 16 2003 Kalpana Chawla was on board with the rest of the crew . She died of February 2003 when the space shuttle disintegrated over Texas during re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere . In her remembrance ‘The Kalpana Chawla Outstanding Recent Alumni Award’ at the University of Colorado, given since 1983, was renamed for Chawla. Asteroid 51826 Kalpanachawla,was one of seven named asteroids after Columbia’s crew.The Government of Haryana established the Kalpana Chawla Planetarium in Jyotisar, Kurukshetra.The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, named the Kalpana Chawla Space Technology Cell in her honor.NASA had dedicated a supercomputer to Chawla.Such has been the respect and honor chawla has earned all over the world . Kalpana chawla ‘s father fondly remembers her and says that she was god-fearing and did nitnem( early morning prayers) everyday .

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