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Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla

Born: March 17, 1962

Died: February 1, 2003

Born on March 17, 1962, in the city of Karnal in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. She was born to Banarasi Lal Chawla, who was a businessman, and Sanjyothi Chawla, who was a social worker. She had a difficult upbringing due to the fact that she was the youngest daughter. From the time she was a baby, she was referred to as Montu by her parents. Upon entering school, Chawla was the first in her family to choose her own name. A person's "thought" or "imagination" is represented by the name 'Kalpana'. K.C. was a moniker she used to go by. Flying, trekking, backpacking, and reading were some of her favorite activities.

It was 1997 when Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian woman in space, breaking ground for future generations. As a result of Columbia's destruction on February 1, 2003, Chawla was killed. Upon re-entry, the spacecraft split apart, killing all seven people inside. After her death, Chawla's legacy has been preserved. This is the story of extraordinary talent who, through her dedication and hard work, was able to realize her aspirations and become an inspiration to young people in India and throughout the globe.


Chawla went to Tagore Baal Niketan Senior Secondary School in Karnal for her primary and secondary schooling in India. NASA encouraged the school to participate in their Summer Space Experience Program after Chawla went on to become a NASA astronaut. Chawla was adamant about ensuring that young women in India had access to scientific education.

Punjab Engineering College awarded Chawla an aeronautical engineering degree. Professors attempted to discourage her from choosing the degree since there were few options for females in India who wanted to pursue this career route. This was a point of contention, but Chawla refused to budge. Emigrating from India to the United States in the 1980s, Chawla was granted naturalization so she could complete her education. She's been an aeronautical engineer at the University of Colorado when she earned her master's degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005. Additionally, she began research on fluid mechanics for lifting systems at NASA Ames Research Center the next year.

Career as an Astronaut

She started working at NASA Ames Research Center in 1988, where she studied computational fluid dynamics for motorized lifts. She focused her study on the modeling of complicated airflows found near aircraft, especially the Harrier, in "ground impact." Since joining Overset Methods Inc. in 1993, Kalpana Chawla has worked with other researchers to develop a team that focuses on the modeling of situations involving numerous moving bodies. Aerodynamic optimization methods were developed and implemented by her. The findings of her study have been published in technical publications and conference papers.

NASA chose her in December 1994, and she began working for the agency in January 1995. Her name was called to the attention of the Johnson Space Center as a candidate for the role of an astronaut when the 15th Group of Astronauts was created in March 1995. To become an Astronaut Office EVA/Robotics and Computer Branch Crew Representative, she had to complete one full year of training. It was here that she evaluated software for the space shuttles and worked with Robotic Situation Awareness Displays.

Space Missions

In November 1997, Kalpana Chawla had her first chance to go in orbit on the space shuttle Columbia on STS-87. Two hundred fifty-two orbits of the Earth were completed by the shuttle in less than a month. There were several experiments and observation gear on board, including a Spartan Satellite that was launched from the shuttle by Chawla during the flight.

Two astronauts had to execute a spacewalk to retrieve a satellite that had malfunctioned due to software issues, which necessitated a spacewalk.

Disaster Strikes

For her second mission into space, Kalpana Chawla was chosen in 2000 by NASA. She was re-assigned as a mission specialist for the STS-107 mission. The mission was postponed many times before ultimately being launched in 2003. More than 80 tests were conducted by the crew over a 16-day mission. The space shuttle Endeavour made her triumphant return to Earth on February 1, 2003, and it was to be launched from the Kennedy Space Center the same day. According to the official, a piece of insulation the size of a briefcase was broken off during launch. The wing's thermal protection system was compromised as a result. During re-entry, it was shielded from the heat by the structure. The wing of the shuttle broke apart when it flew through the atmosphere because of the hot gas rushing into it.

The astronauts were thrown about by the unsteady ship, which rocked and bucked. Crew members perished as the ship lost pressure in less than a minute. Before hitting the Earth, the spacecraft disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana. After the Challenger catastrophe of 1986, this was the second significant disaster. All seven members of a crew were slain. In addition to Husband and Clark, Ilan Ramon and David Brown were also part of the cast, as were Michael Anderson, William McCool, and Kalpana Chawla.

Over the course of her two trips, Chawla spent 30 days, 14 hours, and 54 minutes in space. As she returned to Earth after her maiden spaceflight, she commented, "You feel like a member of the solar system when you gaze at the stars and the cosmos."

Kalpana's Legacy

Kalpana Chawla's life and profession acted as an example to women who wanted to go into space. Even after Kalpana's death, her legacy lives on. Kalpana's father, Banarasi Lal Chawla, says that his daughter's primary goal is to ensure that all children, particularly women, have access to education. Despite the fact that she was making a good living at NASA, she had no desire for worldly possessions and instead chose to use her earnings to assist educate children from low-income families.

Official investigations and reports on the events of Columbia have been released in order to truly comprehend what occurred and how to avoid a repeat of the catastrophe on upcoming space missions. For example, Both the Columbia Incident Reporting Board (2003) and NASA's Columbia Crew Survival Investigation Report (2003) were published in 2003, making them both from that year. Many films have been made on the Columbia crew. There are a lot of instances, such as "Astronaut Diary entries: Honoring the Team" (2005) and "Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope" (2013).

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