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Kalpana Chawla Birth Anniversary: 10 Facts you don’t know about the Astronaut

Kalpana Chawla Birth Anniversary: 10 Facts you don't know about the Astronaut

Kalpana Chawla Jayanti: Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-origin woman to go into space, was born on March 17, 1962, in Karnal, Haryana. The Indian American astronaut was one of seven crew members who died in the 2003 Columbia space shuttle disaster, when their spacecraft disintegrated upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.

Kalpana Chawla had expressed in her will that she wanted her ashes to be scattered either in the Himalayas or Zion National Park in Utah. Her remains were identified and cremated with the rest of the crew and scattered in Zion National Park. She is regarded as a national hero in India.

Her first space flight was in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator on the Columbia Space Shuttle.

Know here 10 lesser facts about Kalpana Chawla

1. She was born in a Punjabi Hindu family in Karnal, Haryana. Her parents had moved from Sheikhupura in Pakistan to Karnal during the partition of India.

2. Her fascination for airplanes started from childhood, she used to visit local flying clubs and planes with her father.

3. She earned her Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College and was the only girl in her batch. She moved to the US in 1982 and completed her Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984. He did his second Masters in 1986 and also did his PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1988.

4. She began working at the National Aeronautics Space Agency’s Ames Research Center in 1988. She became a US citizen in April 1991 and joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1995. Her first application to join the Corps was rejected in 1993.

5. She was the first Indian-origin woman to fly into space twice in her lifetime. Her first flight was in 1997 as part of a six-man crew. She became a woman of Indian origin and the second Indian to fly in space. During his first space mission, she spoke to the then Indian Prime Minister IK Gujral and showed him pictures of the Himalayas taken from space.

6. Her second flight was STS-107, the 28th and final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003. The ill-fated 16-day mission took off on January 16, 2003 and was scheduled to return on February 1. The spacecraft disintegrated just after re-entering Earth’s atmosphere over Texas, just 16 minutes before it was scheduled for touchdown.

7. Kalpana Chawla died along with six other crew members in the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster, after which NASA halted the Space Shuttle Columbia mission for several years. Construction of the ISS was also halted and the station relied entirely on the Russian Roscosmos State Corporation for resupply for 29 months until NASA shuttle flights resumed.

8. Kalpana Chawla was posthumously awarded the Congress’ Space Medal. He received many more medals, awards and recognitions posthumously from both the US and Indian governments.

9. NASA named seven hills on Mars in memory of the seven astronauts killed in the Columbia space shuttle disaster. India’s first weather satellite was also called ‘Kalpana 1’.

10. She was married to her husband Jean-Pierre Harrison for 20 years before her death in February 2003. They married on December 2, 1983, at the age of 21. Harrison has remarried and now has a young son and runs a publishing company in Los Gatos. , California.

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