Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla was an Indian-American astronaut and the first woman of Indian origin to go to space. Her life and achievements continue to inspire people all over the world. Born on March 17, 1962, in Karnal, a small town in Haryana, India, Kalpana Chawla’s early life was marked by her keen interest in science and mathematics.

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Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla was an Indian-American astronaut and the first woman of Indian origin to go to space. Her life and achievements continue to inspire people all over the world. Born on March 17, 1962, in Karnal, a small town in Haryana, India, Kalpana Chawla’s early life was marked by her keen interest in science and mathematics.

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Early Life

Kalpana Chawla, the first woman of Indian origin to go to space, was born on 17 March 1962 in Karnal, Haryana. She spent her childhood watching planes with her father and completed her schooling from Tagore Baal Niketan Senior Secondary School, Karnal.

Education

After finishing her schooling, Chawla pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College in India. Later, she moved to the United States in 1982 to continue her studies and earned a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984.
Chawla achieved her second Master’s degree in 1986 and completed a PhD in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Professional Life

Starting her professional journey in 1988 at NASA Ames Research Center, Chawla engaged in research on computational fluid dynamics of vertical and/or short take-off and landing concepts. She then joined Overset Methods, Inc. In 1993, Chawla was appointed as Vice President and research scientist, specializing in the simulation of moving multiple body problems. Additionally, she was a Certified Flight Instructor for airplanes, gliders, and held Commercial Pilot licenses for single and multi-engine airplanes, seaplanes, and gliders.
After becoming a naturalized U.S. In April 1991, after becoming a citizen, Chawla applied for the NASA Astronaut Corps and joined in March 1995. Her first flight was in 1997 as part of the six-astronaut crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. During her spaceflight, Chawla completed 252 orbits of the earth and covered a distance of 10.4/6.5 million miles, spending more than 376 hours (equivalent to 15 days and 16 hours) in space. One of her duties involved deploying the Spartan Satellite which unfortunately malfunctioned, requiring a spacewalk by Winston Scott and Takao Doi to capture the satellite.

Second Space Mission and Tragedy

Chawla’s second space mission was on STS-107, the final flight of Columbia, in 2003. She was one of the seven crew members who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when the spacecraft disintegrated during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere on 1 February 2003. Chawla traveled the equivalent of 252 times around the Earth, covering 10.67 million km.

Posthumous Awards and Honors

Chawla was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and numerous streets, universities, and institutions have been named in her honor.

Personal Life and Family

On 2 December 1983, Kalpana Chawla married Jean-Pierre Harrison at the age of 21. After the Columbia disaster, movie makers reached out to Harrison to make a film about Kalpana’s life, but he declined the offer because he wanted to maintain his wife’s memory as a personal matter.

In conclusion, Kalpana Chawla was a pioneering astronaut and aerospace engineer who broke barriers as the first woman of Indian origin to go to space. She made significant contributions to the field of aeronautics and her legacy continues to inspire people around the world.

 Life-Story-Of-Kalpana-Chawla

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