When we look up in the sky our mind is always filled with curiosity as to what is out there in outer space. One such woman was Late Kalpana Chawla, an inspiration to women not only in India but worldwide. Kalpana Chawla was born on March 17, 1962 in Karnal, Haryana.
1. First Indian Woman in space
She was an Indian-American astronaut and the first Indian woman in space.
2. First and the last journey to space in same vehicle
She first flew to space in space shuttle ‘Columbia’ in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. In 2003, she was one of the 7 crew members killed in the disaster with space shuttle ‘Columbia.’
3. A dedicated student
She was the first woman to study aeronautical engineering in her batch. She studied aeronautical engineering at the Punjab Engineering College in 1982 where she did her Bachelors in Science.
4. An overachiever
She got Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, NASA Space Flight Medal and many more.
5. International & National Recognition
Some of her memorials are: the Kalpana Chawla Award given by the Karnataka Government, a dormitory named after her in the University of Texas at Arlington from where she did her Masters and a planetarium in Haryana. This sheds light on her meritorious and outstanding achievements.
6. A traveller
She had the privilege of journeying as far as 10.4 million km. This approximately adds up to 252 times around the Earth’s orbit that comprised of 372 hours in space.
7. Lady of space still dominating space
Shortly after her last mission, India renamed its first weather satellite ‘Kalpana-1’ in her honour. Asteroid 51826 is named ‘Kalpanachawla’ in her honour.
8. A hero and role model
She died as hero and as a role-model for many young women, particularly those in her hometown of Karnal where she periodically returned to encourage young girls to follow in her footsteps. Her brother, Sanjay Chawla , remarked “To me, my sister is not dead. She is immortal. Isn’t that what a star is? She is a permanent star in the sky. She will always be up there where she belongs.”
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