The first Indian-origin woman in space, Kalpana Chawla would have been 55 if she would have been alive today. The Indian-American astronaut was born on 17th March 1962 in Karnal, Haryana.
She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. On February 1, 2003, Chawla was one of the seven crew members who lost their life in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
A role model for many young women around the world, Kalpana will always be remembered for her incredible journey, her hard work and dedication for her job.
On her 54th birthday, Have a look at her wonderful journey from Karnal to NASA to being an astronaut in space:
1. Kalpana Chawla's education
She finished her schooling from Karnal, Haryana. She then completed her aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh. She then moved to the USA in 1982 and completed her master's degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas. Further, she earned a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado.
2. Kalpana Chawla as US citizen
She became a naturalised citizen of United States in 1991 and then she applied for the NASA Astronaut Corps. She started working at NASA Ames Research Center in 1988 and later joined the core NASA corp in 1995.
3. Kalpana Chawla's journey to space
In 1997, Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian-born woman and the second Indian person after Rakesh Sharma to travel in space. She travelled to space twice. Her first flight was on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator.
4. Kalpana Chawla's second and last space flight
In 2000, Kalpana was selected for her second flight. The mission constantly got delayed and was finally launched in 2003. On February 1, 2003, while trying to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, the space shuttle disintegrated over Texas.
5. Posthumously honours
Kalpana was posthumously honoured with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Space Flight Medal and NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
6. Time in space
Kalpana Chawla logged 31 days, 14 hours, and 54 minutes in space over the course of her two space missions.
(Picture credit: Google photos, Getty)