Whenever we talk about space and astronauts, the first name that comes in everyone’s mind is Kalpana Chawla. Kalpana Chawla was an Indian American astronaut and the first woman of Indian origin in space. Each and every one is proud of her. She is one of the best examples that proves that girls are strong and independent who can fulfill their dreams.
Kalpana Chawla was born on March 17, 1962. Her father’s name was Banarasi Lal Chawla and her mother’s name was Sanjyothi Chawla. She had two sisters Sunita and Dipa and a brother named Sanjay. She was the youngest of all. As a young girl she liked to draw pictures of airplanes and she learned karate. Later Kalpana enjoyed flying, hiking, and reading.
“The path from dream to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it. Wishing you a great journey” – Kalpana Chawla
Kalpana was born in small town named Karnal in the state of Haryana. She studied in Tagore public school then she joined in Punjab Engineering College in 1982 and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering. In the same year she moved to the United States in 1982. She persuaded a Master of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984. She earned her second Master degree in the year 1986 and a PhD in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She got married to Jeanpierre Harrison in 1983. He was her flying instructor and an aviation author.
Kalpana began working at NASA in 1988, where she did Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research on Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing concepts. She joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1995 and the very next year she was been selected for her first flight.
“When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular land, but from the solar system” – Kalpana Chawla
Kalpana first flew in Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87 in 1997. On her first mission, Kalpana traveled over 10.4 million miles in 252 orbits of the earth, logging more than 372 hours in space. In the year 2000, she was been selected for her second flight as part of the crew of the flight STS-107. The mission had delayed over and over again due to some scheduling conflicts and technical problems. But later on January 16 2003, Kalpana finally returned to space mission on the ill-fated Space Shuttle Columbia STS-107.
Kalpana Chawla died on February 1, 2003 in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when the Columbia fragmented over Texas during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Due to the damage to its left-wing, the shuttle broke apart 16 minutes before landing at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. All seven of the crew members couldn’t survive. Kalpana’s remains where cremated and scattered at National Park in Utah in accordance with her wishes with the rest of crew members.
On February 5, 2003, the Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji named India’s first meteorological series of satellites as “Kalpana-1” in memory of Kalpana Chawla.
Kalpana Chawla sacrificed her life and became an inspiration to millions of people. She lived with stars and moon and became a STAR. She will live on forever in the hearts of all Indians. She has brought glory to the nation in life and in death.
As per news and reports doing the rounds are anything to go by, then actress Priyanka Chopra will soon be blasting off into outer space with her next film project – a biopic on late Indian astronaut Kalpana Chawla. Years after news first broke of the actress being offered the titular role, recent reports state that Priyanka has finally come on board for the project that will be mounted on an international scale.