"The woman who conquered space"

Kalpana Chawla

1962 - 2003

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Kalpana Chawla  is not just an aeronautical engineer and the first Indian woman to travel into  space. She is an inspiration. A beacon of hope to all women who dare to be  different and dare to dream.

She was born in  a small town in Karnal, Harayana and did her Aeronautical Engineering at Punjab  Engineering College. Marriage to her flying instructor and an aviation author  took her to USA, where she went on to complete her M.S. in Aerospace  Engineering from University of Texas, Arlington and later on her Ph.D. from  University of Colorado, Boulder. 

Kalpana had many  feathers on her cap. She was a certified flight instructor who rated aircrafts  and gliders and she also held a commercial pilot license. Her multiple  qualifications landed her with the role of Vice President of Overset Methods in  NASA. There was no stopping her after that. She was inducted in the NASA  'Astronaut Corps' and in 1996 she was selected for her first mission. Travelling  around the Earth in a space shuttle. Despite her role being compromised by  technical malfunctions, Kalpana Chawla had already made history. She circled  252 times around the Earth's orbit and became the first Indian woman to travel  in space.

Her second  flight mission was eventful. It not only brought her to the limelight but also  ended her promising career and life. Chawla's responsibilities in the ill-fated  STS-107 mission included the microgravity experiments. All the seven crew  members were victims of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster as it disintegrated  over Texas while re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, shortly before the mission  concluded. 

With the two  missions that she took on, Chawla will always remain that Indian woman who was  in space for a month. She logged 30 days, 14 hours, and 54 minutes in space to  be precise. Posthumously, Kalpana Chawla has received many recognitions, awards  and dedications, both in India and in the USA.

After her first  launch, she said, "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."

While floating  in space the very first time, she uttered, "You are just your intelligence." Well said  Kalpana Chawla. Very well said. Your lovely smiling face in your orange space  suit will always be an inspiration. 

This is a SoulPrints tribute to our super woman Kalpana Chawla. 

      


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