India

Remembering Kalpana Chawla: Girl who dreamt of stars

Remembering Kalpana Chawla: Girl who dreamt of stars

New Delhi [India]: Today is the death anniversary of the first India-born woman astronaut Kalpana Chawla. In the year 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia STS-107 was re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the space shuttle burnt and disintegrated into pieces killing all the crew members on board. One of them was Kalpana Chawla.

Born in March 17, 1962, in Karnal, Haryana, Chawla finished her schooling from the city after which she got a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh.

In 1982, she moved to the United States and pursued a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, and later in 1988 she got a PhD in the same from the University of Colorado.

In 1988, Kalpana started working with the NASA Ames Research Center in the area of powered-lift computational fluid dynamics.

Not many may know of this, but Kalpana’s first application to NASA in 1993 was rejected; she was selected in the 1995 class.

Kalpana’s first space mission on November 19, 1997 – on Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87- made her the first Indian-origin woman and the second Indian, after Rakesh Sharma, to go to space. One of Kalpana’s tasks was to release the Spartan satellite.

During her first space mission, Kalpana also spoke to the then Prime Minister of India Inderjit K Gujral from orbit.

It was her second space mission in 2003, aboard STS-107, that proved to be fatal for her and the six other crew members. On February 1, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, just 16 minutes before landing.

The last communication that Kalpana’s family received from her was, “Our mission is successful and we are all fine here.”

Though Kalpana failed to re-enter into earth’s atmosphere, but she became an inspiration to millions of people. (ANI)