India remembers astronaut Kalpana Chawla on her birth anniversary

James Marshall
March 17, 2018

On her 56th birthday, citizens across the country celebrated Kalpana Chawla - the first Indian-born woman to fly in space and only the second Indian person to do so. But unfortunately, we lost our hero Kalpana and the other 6 crew members in the space at the end of the mission on February 1, just before entering the Earth's atmosphere.

Kalpana Chawla was born on March 17, 1962, in Karnal, Haryana which is a small town in India. During her childhood, she used to draw planes and was fascinated by them.After completing her schooling from Punjab, she did Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh.

Kalpana Chawla will always be remembered for her inspiring and incredible journey. After logging more than 350 hours on her first mission where she deployed the Spartan satellite that malfunctioned for which she was exonerated. It is now known as "Kalpana Chawla Outstanding Recent Alumni Award". Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from University of Texas, 1984.

She began working at the NASA Ames Research Centre in 1988. Her research concentrated on simulation of complex air flows encountered around aircraft such as the Harrier in "ground-effect". Results of various projects that Kalpana Chawla participated in are documented in technical conference papers and journals. She was later assigned a job in the astronaut office for a couple of years.

Astronaut Kalpana Chawla, STS-107 mission specialist, prepares to simulate a parachute drop into water during an emergency bailout training session in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) near the Johnson Space Center (JSC).

She had spent almost 31 days in space during her two missions. STS-87 was the fourth U.S Microgravity Payload flight and focused on experiments created to study how the weightless environment of space affects various physical processes, and on observations of the Sun's outer atmospheric layers. The flight was of a 16-day and the crew members conducted near about 80 experiments.

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