|Kalpana Chawla Quick Info|
|Height||5 ft 4 in|
|Date of Birth||March 17, 1962|
|Date of Death||February 1, 2003|
Kalpana Chawla was an Indian-born American astronaut and aerospace engineer who became the first woman of Indian origin to fly to space. In 1997, she flew on Space Shuttle Columbia as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator and then flew on the ill-fated STS-107 mission, the final flight of Columbia, in 2003. Chawla was one of the 7 crew members who lost their lives in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when the spacecraft disintegrated during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere on February 1, 2003. Kalpana Chawla was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the NASA Space Flight Medal, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
She was born on March 17, 1962.
On February 1, 2003, Kalpana Chawla died aboard Space Shuttle Columbia over Texas, United States in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. She was 40 years old at that time.
Karnal, East Punjab state, India (later: Haryana, India)
Kalpana Chawla studied at Tagore Baal Niketan Senior Secondary School in Karnal. Then, she got enrolled at Punjab Engineering College and graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering. She earned a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in Arlington, Texas in 1984.
After that, she obtained a second Master’s in 1986 and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Astronaut, Aerospace Engineer
- Father – Banarasi Lal Chawla
- Mother – Sanjyothi Chawla
- Siblings – Sunita Chawla (Older Sister), Deepa Chawla (Older Sister), Sanjay Chawla (Older Brother)
- India (1962–1991)
- United States (1991–2003)
5 ft 4 in or 162.5 cm
56 kg or 123.5 lbs
Boyfriend / Spouse
Kalpana Chawla had dated –
- Jean-Pierre Harrison (1983-2003) – She was 21 years old when she got married to Jean-Pierre Harrison on December 2, 1983. They remained together until her death in 2003.
Race / Ethnicity
Kalpana Chawla Facts
- During her younger years, she used to go to local flying clubs and watch planes with her father.
- Kalpana Chawla shifted to the United States in 1982.
- She started working at NASA Ames Research Center in 1988. Her work included computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research on vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) concepts.
- In 1990, she became a naturalized United States citizen.
- She applied for the NASA Astronaut Corps in April 1991 and joined the corps in March 1995. She was selected for her first flight in 1997.
- On November 19, 1997, Kalpana Chawla’s first space mission commenced and she was one of the 6 astronauts that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87.
- While traveling in the weightlessness of space, she said, “You are just your intelligence.”
- Chawla joined Overset Methods, Inc. as Vice President and Research Scientist in 1993. She specialized in the simulation of moving multiple body problems.
- She was selected for her 2nd flight as part of the 7-member crew of STS-107 in 2000. Eventually, she returned to space on January 16, 2003, on the STS-107 mission and the crew performed around 80 experiments studying Earth and space science, advanced technology development, and astronaut health and safety.
- Along with the other 6 crew members (commander Rick D. Husband, pilot William C. McCool, mission specialist David M. Brown, mission specialist Michael P. Anderson, mission specialist Laurel B. Clark, and payload specialist Ilan Ramon), she died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when Columbia disintegrated over Texas during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
- According to her wishes, her remains were cremated and scattered at Zion National Park in Utah.
- Kalpana Chawla was a Certified Flight Instructor who held ratings for airplanes, gliders, and Commercial Pilot licenses for single and multi-engine airplanes, seaplanes, and gliders.
Featured Image by United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) / science.ksc.nasa.gov / Public Domain