An Inspiring journey of Kalpana Chawala.
5 September 2016
Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian woman astronaut. She was born to Banarsi Lal Chawla and Sanjyothi Chawla on March 17, 1962, in Karnal, Haryana (now in Punjab). Kalpana Chawla was the youngest among her three siblings. She was not always the top student in her class but had a very inquisitive mind. Science was her favourite subject. She was also fond of writing poetry and dancing. In her free time, she used to look at the sky at night and watch starts and aeroplanes. She often told her brother that she wanted to fly. She used to tell people that she want to become a flight engineer, though she had no idea about flight engineer’s role.
After completing college, she refused to join the offered job from her college and decided to pursue Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas. Her parents took a big step and allowed their daughter to pursue her dream. She moved to the United States in 1982 where she obtained the Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984. She earned her second Master’s degree in 1986. Chawla was very determined to become an astronaut even in the face of the Challenger disaster.
In 1988, she began working at the NASA Ames Research Centre, where she did Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research on Vertical/Short Take-off and landing concepts. Her first space mission began on November 19, 1997, as part of the six-astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. Chawla travelled over 10.4 million miles in 252 orbits of the earth, logging more than 372 hours in space. In 2000, Kalpana was selected for her second flight as a part of the crew of STS-107. It was also her last. Chawla died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster which occurred on February 1, 2003, just 16 minutes before landing, the space shuttle burnt and disintegrated, killing all on board.
She has truly shown the necessary inspiration in the minds of young Indians.
”When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system. – Kalpana Chawla”
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Image courtesy: Wikipedia