File photo of Kalpana Chawla
Kalpana Chawla arrived in the USA in 1982 and became a citizen of the country in 1991. She started working in NASA at the Ames Research Center in 1988.
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February 1 marks the death anniversary of Indian origin astronaut Kalpana Chawla. The astronaut who passed away at the age of 40 became the first woman of Indian origin who went to space. Kalpana along with six other crew members died when their spacecraft Columbia was entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over the US state of Texas around 16 minutes before their scheduled landing. The remains of Kalpana and her crew members were identified. As per Kalpana’s wishes, her remains were scattered at Utah’s Zion National Park. Here are some of the interesting facts about Kalpana:
Kalpana arrived in the USA in 1982 and became a citizen of the country in 1991. She started working in NASA at the Ames Research Center in 1988.
When Kalpana was in India, she was a student at Karnal’s Tagore Baal Niketan School. NASA invited the school to take part in the Summer Space Experience Programme on Kalpana’s request. Since 1998, two students have visited NASA every year. Kalpana used to host them at her residence for dinner as well.
Several educational institutions and awards have been named in her honour. In 2004, the Government of Karnataka constituted Kalpana Chawla Award for young women scientists.
She completed a Bachelor of Engineering in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College. After this, Kalpana went on to get two Masters degrees. She completed her PhD in aerospace engineering in 1986 from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Kalpana got married to Jean-Pierre Harriso in 1983. The couple were married for 20 years before Kalpana’s demise in 2003.
The 2003 mission was Kalpana’s second mission in space. Before that, her first space mission started on November 19, 1997. She travelled 10.4 million miles in 252 orbits of the earth. She spent 15 days and 12 hours in space.
When Kalpana was on her first space mission on the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87, she had spoken to the then Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral and had shown him the pictures of Himalaya as captured from space.