on March 17, 1962 and
passed away on February 01, 2003.
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.