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Kalpana Chawla ( ; ) (March 17, 1962 – February 1, 2003), was an Indian-American scientist and a NASAmarker astronaut. She was one of seven crewmembers killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

Early life

Kalpana Chawla was born in a Punjabi family in Karnalmarker, Haryanamarker, India. She was born in Model Town Karnal. Kalpana in Sanskrit means "imagination". Her interest in flying was inspired by J. R. D. Tata, a pioneering Indian pilot and industrialist.. There are a total of four children in the Chawla household including Kalpana. They are (eldest first) Sunita Chawla, girl, Deepa Chawla, girl, Sanjay Chawla, boy, and Kalpana herself. Being the youngest, the family members gave her the nickname “Montu”. She and her brother Sanjay shared the dream to fly.

She met and married Jean-Pierre Harrison, a flying instructor and aviation writer, in 1983 and became a naturalized United States citizen in 1990.

Education

Chawla completed her earlier schooling at Tagore Public School, Karnal. She earned her Bachelor of engineering degree in aeronautical engineering at Punjab Engineering Collegemarker in Chandigarhmarker in 1982. She moved to the United States in 1982 and obtained a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlingtonmarker (1984). Chawla went on to earn a second Master of Science degree in 1986 and a PhD in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado at Bouldermarker.

Later that year she began working for NASA Ames Research Centermarker as vice president of Overset Methods, Inc. where she did CFD research on V/STOL. Chawla held a Certificated Flight Instructor rating for airplanes, gliders and Commercial Pilot licenses for single and multiengine airplanes, seaplanes and gliders. She held an FCC issued Technician Class Amateur Radio license with the call sign KD5ESI.

NASA career

Chawla joined the NASA astronaut corps in March 1995 and was selected for her first flight in 1998.

Her first space mission began on November 19, 1997 as part of the six astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. Chawla was the first Indian-born woman and the second person of Indian origin to fly in space, following cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma who flew in 1984 in a Sovietmarker spacecraft. On her first mission Chawla travelled over 10.4 million miles in 252 orbits of the earth, logging more than 360 hours in space. During STS-87, she was responsible for deploying the Spartan Satellite which malfunctioned, necessitating a spacewalk by Winston Scott and Takao Doi to capture the satellite. A five-month NASA investigation fully exonerated Chawla by identifying errors in software interfaces and the defined procedures of flight crew and ground control.

After the completion of STS-87 post-flight activities, Kalpana was assigned to technical positions in the astronaut office, her performance in which was recognized with a special award from her peers.

Chawla in the space shuttle simulator


In 2000 she was selected for her second flight as part of the crew of STS-107. This mission was repeatedly delayed due to scheduling conflicts and technical problems such as the July 2002 discovery of cracks in the shuttle engine flow liners. On January 16, 2003, Chawla finally returned to space aboard Columbia on the ill-fated STS-107 mission. Chawla's responsibilities included the SPACEHAB/BALLE-BALLE/FREESTAR microgravity experiments, for which the crew conducted nearly 80 experiments studying earth and space science, advanced technology development, and astronaut health and safety.

Chawla's last visit to India was during the 1991–1992 new year holiday when she and her husband spent time with her family.

Awards

Posthumously awarded:

Memorials

  • Kalpana Chawla Memorial Scholarship program was instituted by Indian students association (ISA) at the University of Texas at El Pasomarker (UTEP) in 2005 for meritorious graduate students.
  • At least 30,000 schoolchildren and citizens joined hands to make a 36.4-km-long human chain to support the demand for a Kalpana Chawla medical college in the city which was announced by then Health Minister of India Dr. C. P. Thakur and later on promised by Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh. Kalpana Chawla Medical College Nirman Committee backed by volunteers and activists of various organisations, supported by students from 34 schools, swarmed the roads and formed a chain along the roads in Karnal to demonstrate that they continued to rever Kalpana Chawla as an outstanding astronaut.
  • Asteroid 51826 Kalpanachawla, one of seven named after the Columbia's crew.
  • On February 5, 2003, India's Prime Minister announced that the meteorological series of satellites, "METSAT", will be renamed as "KALPANA". The first satellite of the series, "METSAT-1", launched by India on September 12, 2002 will be now known as "KALPANA-1". "KALPANA-2" is expected to be launched by 2007.
  • 74th Street in Jackson Heights, Queensmarker, New York Citymarker has been renamed 74th Street Kalpana Chawla Way in her honor.
  • The University of Texas at Arlingtonmarker (where Chawla obtained a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1984) opened a dormitory named in her honor, Kalpana Chawla Hall, in 2004.
  • Kalpana Chawla Award was instituted by the government of Karnatakamarker in 2004 for young women scientists
  • The girls hostel at Punjab Engineering Collegemarker, is named after Kalpana Chawla. In addition, an award of INR twenty five thousand, a medal, and a certificate is instituted for the best student in Aeronautical engineering department
  • NASA has dedicated a super computer to Kalpana.
  • One of Florida Institute of Technologymarker's student apartment complexes, Columbia Village Suites, has halls named after each of the astronauts, including Chawla.
  • NASA Mars Exploration Rover mission has named seven peaks in a chain of hills, named the Columbia Hills, after each of the seven astronauts lost in the Columbia shuttle disaster, including Chawla hill after Kalpana Chawla.
  • Steve Morse from the band Deep Purple created a song called "Contact Lost" in memory of the Columbia tragedy along with her interest in the band. The song can be found on the album Bananas.
  • 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."
  • Novelist Peter David named a shuttlecraft, the Chawla, after the astronaut in his 2007 Star Trek novel, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Before Dishonor.
  • Government of Haryanamarker has made a Planetarium after her name called as Kalpana Chawla Planetarium in Jyotisar,Kurukshetramarker
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpurmarker started the Kalpana Chawla Space Technology Cell in her honor.
  • Military housing development at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland has been named Columbia Colony. There is also a street named Chawla Way.


See also



Further reading

  • Among The Stars-Life and Dreams of Kalpana Chawla by Gurdeep Pandher
  • India's 50 Most Illustrious Women (ISBN 81-88086-19-3) by Indra Gupta
  • Kalpana Chawla, a life (ISBN 0-14-333586-3) by Anil Padmanabhan


References

  1. Kalpana Chawla Family Foundation for Education and the Environment
  2. An Exclusive Website on Kalpana Chawla
  3. NASA Biographical Data - Kalpana Chawla, Ph.D.
  4. Spacefacts biography of Kalpana Chawla
  5. Kalpana Chawla STS-107 Crew Memorial
  6. Kalpana Chawla -- Mission Specialist
  7. India Renames Satellite in Memory of Columbia Astronaut
  8. Seven Heroes, Seven Faiths
  9. Reporter Tips, Dr. Kalpana C. Chawla, astronaut
  10. Pictures of Kalpana Chawla
  11. The Chawlas' odyssey
  12. Astronaut Memorial Foundation webpage
  13. www.tribuneindia.com
  14. HobbySpace - Space Music - Rock/Pop
  15. David, Peter; Star Trek: Next Generation: Before Dishonor; Page 24.
  16. http://ibnlive.in.com/news/planetarium-in-kalpana-chawlas-memory/36993-11.html IBN News
  17. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ambuj/421069342/
  18. http://www.kcstc.iitkgp.ernet.in/


External links




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