When we talk about histories being created by NASA in the international space station, it’s inevitable that “Kalpana Chawla” one of the legendary astronauts whose name we can never forget. She truly epitomizes the adage ‘reaching for the stars’.

Her death was unbelievably unfortunate and was mind shattering for many Indians. But her massive sacrifice didn’t go in vain and even now she’s the symbol of pride and courage for our nation.

She was the first Indian- American astronaut to be on space. She as a mission specialist and primary robot operator was first one to fly via space shuttle Columbia in 1997.

Her life is a source of inspiration to women all over the world, but we Indians have a special affection for her. She was a simple girl but her unusual bravery, audacity, and her work, became a living avatar to women globally to pursue their dreams and work deliriously hard to achieve success.

Kalpana Chawla Naukripitara
Kalpana Chawla Naukripitara

Here’s the marvelous life story of Kalpana that everyone needs to know

Kalpana was born on 17th March 1962, in a small town of Haryana, called Karnal.  She was raised by an average middle-class family.  She belonged to a typical male dominant society, where most boys were provided more freedom than girls, as they weren’t permitted to work. This is why her achievements are considered more pronounced.

She pursued her B.Tech in aeronautical engineering from Punjab engineering college, Chandigarh in 1982. She got an MSC degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington. She was keen to join NASA. Her efforts finally paid off, and she was promoted to become vice-president of overset methods inc. with NASA research center.

Kalpana had conducted computational fluid dynamics research on vertical/short takeoff and landing concepts. She earned certification for a pilot license for seaplanes, multi-engine air, and glider.  After her immense hard work and obstinate attitude towards success, she eventually was a certified flight instructor for glider and Airplanes.

First Space Mission

Chawla’s first space mission was initiated on November 19, 1997, as onboard with six astronauts on space shuttle Columbia sts-87. She emerged strongly as the first ever woman of Indian origin to fly in space, and second Indian to enter space after Rakesh Sharma. 

Second Space mission and her Iconic death

Her next space mission was the most crucial one for her. This one was initiated on 16th January 2003. She boarded on space shuttle Columbia sts-107. While the shuttle was coming back to earth, it rebounded and got shattered into small parts causing heavy destruction, which led to the death of Chawla and costed her entire crew member’s lives. This unfortunate accident took place on 1st February 2003.

Even if we lost our most rebellious astronaut from India in this tragic incident, her remembrance, memories and inspirational words during the last iconic space shuttle mission would always be eternal. Kalpana Chawla is one of the pioneers who rocked in her chosen vocation despite hurdles, and a stereotypical Indian society, to make everyone proud.

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