Remembering Kalpana Chawla, the first woman of Indian origin to go to space

Updated: Mar 17, 2020, 09:17
  • Kalpana Chawla

    Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian origin woman to fly to space. She was born on March 17, 1962, in Karnal. Kalpana became a citizen of the United States in 1991. All pics/AFP

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  • Kalpana Chawla

    Kalpana was fascinated by aeroplanes and flying ever since she was a child. She would often go with her father to watch planes at clubs.

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  • Kalpana Chawla

    Kalpana graduated from the Tagore School and was good in academics. She moved to the United States in 1982 after completing a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College.

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  • Kalpana Chawla

    Kalpana has two Masters Degrees. She got her first Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984, followed by the second in 1986. She did her PhD in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado Boulder.

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  • Kalpana Chawla

    Chawla began working at NASA Ames Research Centre in 1988. Chawla flew to space for the first time in 1997 when she was chosen to be a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator in the Space Shuttle Columbia. With this, she became the first Indian-born woman to fly in the space.

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  • Kalpana Chawla

    Kalpana became the first woman of Indian origin to fly to space as part of the six-astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87.

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  • Kalpana Chawla

    However, as ill-luck would have it, on 1 February 2003, Chawla’s second flight to space disintegrated on its way back. Kalpana died along with six others.

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  • Kalpana Chawla

    This October 2001 NASA photo shows the seven STS-107 crew members posing for the traditional crew portrait. Seated in front are astronauts Rick D. Husband (L), mission commander; Kalpana Chawla, (C) mission specialist; and William C. McCool, pilot. Standing are (From L) astronauts David M. Brown, Laurel B. Clark, and Michael P. Anderson, all mission specialists; and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist representing the Israeli Space Agency.

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  • Kalpana Chawla

    The mortal remains of Chawla and rest of her crew members were cremated and scattered at Zion National Park in Utah.

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  • Kalpana Chawla

    Kalpana Chawla was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honour. There are several streets, universities, institutions and scholarships named in honour of Kalpana Chawla. One of the seven peaks of the Columbia Hills is also named after Kalpana Chawla.

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  • Kalpana Chawla

    Kalpana met her husband Jean-Pierre Harrison on December 2, 1982, and the two got married in December 1983. Harrison wrote the authoritative biography on the astronaut titled, 'The Edge of Time'

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    On February 5, 2003, Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was the then Prime Minister of India had announced that the meteorological series of satellites, MetSat, was to be renamed "Kalpana". The first satellite of the series, "MetSat-1", which was launched by India on September 12, 2002, was renamed "Kalpana-1".

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  • Kalpana Chawla

    There are several streets, universities, institutions and scholarships which have been named in honour of Kalpana Chawla. One of the seven peaks of the Columbia Hills is also named after Kalpana Chawla.

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About The Gallery

On the birth anniversary of Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian origin woman to go on a space mission, let's take a look at some of her rare pictures.

(Photos: AFP)