Chai Khana

Remembering Kalpana Chawla

  • First woman of Indian descent to go to space, Kalpana Chawla was born on 17 March, 1962, in Karnal, Haryana.
  • As a child, Kalpana was fascinated by aeroplanes and flying. She went to local flying clubs and watched planes with her father. Chawla said “Every once in a while we’d ask my dad if we could get a ride in one of these planes. And, he did take us to the flying club and we had a joyride in the Pushpak and a glider that the flying club had.”
  • In 1976, Chawla graduated from the Tagore School, where she was a high-performing student. After getting a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, India, she moved to the United States in 1982 and obtained a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984. Chawla went on to earn a second Masters in 1986 and a PhD in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado Boulder.
  • 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.
  • She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator.
  • On her first mission, Chawla travelled over 10.4 million miles (16737177.6 km) in 252 orbits of the earth, logging more than 372 hours (15 days and 12 hours) in space.
  • “You are just your intelligence” she had said while travelling in the weightlessness of space.
  • In 2001, Chawla was selected for her second flight as part of the crew of ill-fated STS-107.
  • The crew performed nearly 80 experiments studying Earth and space science, advanced technology development, and astronaut health and safety.
  • 40 years old Chawla died on February 1, 2003, in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, along with the other six crew members, when the Columbia disintegrated over Texas during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107.
  • Chawla was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and several streets, universities and institutions have been named in her honor. She is regarded as a national hero in India.

Some of the recognitions:

  • Kalpana Chawla Chowk is a name given/dedicated to a crossroad in Borivli, Mumbai in memory of the astronaut.
  • The Kalpana One Space Settlement is named in her honor.
  • A block is named as Kalpana Chawla Block in her honor in ABES Engineering college Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) India.
  • Girls hostel named after Kalpana Chawla in M.B.M. Engineering College, Jodhpur (Rajasthan), India.
  • Girls’ hostel named as Kalpana Chawla hall of residence (KCHR), in College Of Engineering and Technology Bhubaneswar.
  • A park in model town area of Karnal, Haryana was also named after Kalpana Chawla
  • The Government of Haryana established the Kalpana Chawla Planetarium in Jyotisar, Kurukshetra.
  • The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, named the Kalpana Chawla Space Technology Cell in her honor.
  • Delhi Technological University named a girls’ hostel block after Chawla.
  • A military housing development at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, has been named Columbia Colony, and includes a street named Chawla Way.
  • Hostel blocks in Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Sagar Institute of Research & Technology, VIT University, Samrat Ashok Technological Institute and Pondicherry University have been named after Chawla.
  • Kalpana Chawla Government Medical College (KCGMC) is a Medical College located in Karnal, Haryana, India named after Chawla.
  • Kalpana Chawla Government Polytechnic for Women is a polytechnic college for Women located in Ambala city, Haryana, India named after Chawla.
  • The girls’ hostel at Punjab Engineering College is named after Chawla. In addition, an award of INR twenty-five thousand, a medal, and a certificate is instituted for the best student in the Aeronautical Engineering department.
  • The University of Texas at Arlington, where Chawla obtained a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering in 1984, opened a dormitory named Kalpana Chawla Hall in 2004. In addition, the university dedicated the Kalpana Chawla Memorial on May 3, 2010, in Nedderman Hall, one of the primary buildings in the College of Engineering
  • Novelist Peter David named a shuttlecraft, the Chawla, after the astronaut in his 2007 Star Trek novel, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Before Dishonor.
  • The Kalpana Chawla ISU Scholarship fund was founded by alumni of the International Space University (ISU) in 2010 to support Indian women’s participation in international space education programs.
  • The Kalpana Chawla Memorial Scholarship program was instituted by the Indian Students Association (ISA) at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in 2005 for meritorious graduate students.
  • The Kalpana Chawla Outstanding Recent Alumni Award at the University of Colorado, given since 1983, was renamed after Chawla
  • The 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. One of them is Chawla Hill, named after Chawla.
  • NASA has dedicated a supercomputer to Chawla
  • On February 5, 2003, the Prime Minister of India announced that the meteorological series of satellites, MetSat, was to be renamed “Kalpana”. The first satellite of the series, “MetSat-1”, launched by India on September 12, 2002 was renamed “Kalpana-1”.
  • 74th Street in the “Little India” of Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City, New York, United States has been renamed “Kalpana Chawla Way” in her honor.
  • The Kalpana Chawla Award was instituted by the Government of Karnataka in 2004 to recognize young women scientists

 

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