Fifteen years ago, on the morning of February 1, the world lost 7 shining stars, and India – its first Indian-born woman in space. The tragic loss of the space shuttle Columbia that killed seven astronauts, including Kalpana Chawla, resonated far and wide.
The space shuttle was on its way home, intending to land at Kennedy Space Centre when it exploded on entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
An inspiration for Girls :
Kalpana Chawla (March 17, 1962 – February 1, 2003) was an American astronaut and the first woman of Indian origin in space. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator.
With an aim to join NASA, Chawla moved to the United States in 1982. She went on to obtain a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984 and got her second Master’s degree in 1986. Not stopping there, she went on to earn a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
In 1988, she took another step closer to her dream, joining NASA, and in 1997 she went on her first space flight. Over the course of her two missions, Chawla logged 30 days, 14 hours, and 54 minutes in space.
Honors and recognition:
Her determination and grit has been an inspiration to little girls, and strong women across the globe.
- 74th Street in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City has been renamed “Kalpana Chawla Way” in her honor.
- The Kalpana Chawla Award was instituted by the Government of Karnataka in 2004 to recognize young women scientists.
- NASA has dedicated a supercomputer to Chawla.
- One of Florida Institute of Technology’s student apartment complexes, Columbia Village Suites, has halls named after each of the astronauts, including Chawla.
- On February 5, 2003, the Prime Minister of India announced that the meteorological series of satellites, MetSat, was to be renamed “Kalpana”. The first satellite of the series, “MetSat-1”, launched by India on September 12, 2002 was renamed “Kalpana-1”.
She will always be in hearts .