The first woman of Indian-origin to go to space, Kalpana Chawla was born on March 17, 1962. Though born in India, Kalpana, who had a keen interest in aeroplanes and flying, became a naturalized US citizen in April 1991, and subsequently applied for the NASA Astronaut Corps.
Chawla’s first space mission was on November 18, 1997, where she was a part of the six-astronaut crew of STS-87.
She returned to space in the ill-fated STS-107 mission.
She, along with six other crew members, died on February 1, 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas, during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
On her birth anniversary, here’s looking at a few interesting facts about her:
She was part of the six-astronaut crew who were onboard the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87 on November 19, 1997.
After completing her PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1988, Kalpana started to work at the NASA Ames Research Center, where she did computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research on vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) concepts.
In 2001, Kalpana was selected for her second flight as part of the crew of STS-107.
Kalpana died on February 1, 2003, over the southern United States when the Space Shuttle Columbia STS-107 perished during entry, 16 minutes prior to the scheduled landing.
In 2003, the then government announced that the meteorological series of satellites, MetSat, was to be renamed “Kalpana".
The Kalpana Chawla Award was instituted by the Government of Karnataka in 2004 to recognise young women scientists.
Several scholarships, streets, universities and institutions have been named in honour of Kalpana Chawla.