Kalpana Chawla has been an inspiration to many for her courage and determination. She was not only India's first women to travel into space but was also the first women to study aeronautics engineering in her batch. Unfortunately, Kalpana along with six other crew members of STS-107 or the 28th space mission of Columbia; died mid air when their space shuttle caught fire while entering the Earth's orbit.
Education and Degree:
Chawla obtained an MS degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas in 1984. She obtained a second MS degree in 1986 and a PhD in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado. Later that year she began working at NASA Ames Research centre as vice president of Overset Methods, Inc where she did CFD research on Vertical/Short Takeoff and landing concepts.
She held a Certificated Flight Instructor Pilot Licenses for single and multi engine airplanes, seaplanes and gliders. She enjoyed flying aerobatics and tail-wheel airplanes. In 1990 she became a citizen of US. Kalpana Chawla died on February 1, 2003, when space Shuttle Columbia destroyed during entry 16 minutes prior to schedule landing.
Space Career of Kalpana Chawla:
Kalpana Chawla started work at NASA Ames Research Centre in the area of powered-lift computational fluid dynamics. In 1993 she joined Overset Methods Inc, Los Altos, California as vice president and research scientist. She joined NASA Astronaut Corps in 1995. In 1996 she was selected for her first flight. While traveling in weightlessness of space she said “You are just your intelligence”. She had traveled 10.4 million Km, as many as 252 times around the earth. 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.
During STS-87, she was responsible for deploying the Spartan Satellite which malfunctioned, necessitating a spacewalk by Winston Scott and Takao Doi to capture the satellite.After the completion of STS-87 Chawla was assigned to technical positions in the astronaut office to work on the sapp0ace station. In 2000 she was selected for the second flight as part of the crew of STS-107.
On January 16, 2003, she finally returned to space abroad Columbia on the STS-107. Her responsibilities included the micro gravity experiments, for which the crew conducted nearly 80 experiments studying earth and space science, advanced technology development and astronaut health and safety.
Death of Kalpana Chawla:
Chawla died in Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on February 1, 2003, when the space Shuttle disintegrated over Texas during reentry into the earth’s atmosphere. All the seven crew members died in the disaster. The space Shuttle was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107.
Awards and Honours of Kalpana Chawla:
Kalpana Chawla was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honour, the NASA Space Flight Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Scholarships like The Kalpana Chawla ISU Scholarship and the Kalpana Chawla Memorial Scholarship have been named after her. The Kalpana Chawla Award was instituted by the government of Karnataka for young woman scientists. NASA has dedicated a super computer to Kalpana. The Kalpana Chawla Planetarium in Kurukshetra is named after her. IIT, Kharagpur started the Kalpana Chawla space Technology Cell in her honour. NASA dedicated a hill in the Mars Hover Mission to Chawla. In the Star Trek Novel, writer Peter David named one of his shuttle craft as "The Chawla".
Words and Wishes:
ISRO Chairman Kasturirangan
"Though I did not know Kalpana Chawla personally, I consider her achievement, as being the first Indian woman to enter space on board the Space shuttle Columbia, as a big achievement for India."
Dr Murli Joshi
"I am deeply shocked at the tragedy both as a physicist and the Minister for Science and Technology. This is very unfortunate that an otherwise successful mission met with an accident just a few minutes before landing"
The Entire Nation
(FAN OF Ms. KALPANA CHAWLA)
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