Heroine in the air – Kalpana Chawla

Heroine in the air – Kalpana Chawla

Being an astronaut is a childhood dream of many. Many people have this dream but only a handful can make it come true. And a woman going into space is another special event. When Russian Valentina Tereskova first went into space in 1963, then women also went into space, and Kalpana Chawla was another astronaut looking for such dreams.

In 2003, a Colombian spacecraft crashed, killing seven astronauts. Among them were Laurel Clark, the first Indian woman to go into space, and Kalpana Chawla.

Small platform

Kalpana Kalpana was born on July 1, 1961 in the Indian state of Punjab to the youngest daughter of a middle class family of four, Syongita Chawla and Banerjee Lal Chawla. She received her primary education at the Tagore Bal Niketan School and later obtained a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Punjab College of Engineering. She then immigrated to the United States, where she earned two bachelor’s degrees in science.

The dream come true

Kalpana was married to Jean-Pierre Harrison in 1983. Kalpana Chawla, who received her PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado in the United States in 1988, began working at NASA’s Ames Research Center the same year, fulfilling a childhood dream.

Kalpana’s dream of launching into space first came true in November 1997 with the launch of the Columbia space shuttle mission. Kalpana went down in history as the first Indian woman to go into space and the second Indian to go into space after Rakesh Sharma. The shuttle was launched into space for a number of technical purposes, including the launch of the Spartan satellite. During the first space flight, Kalpana completed 10.4 million miles and remained in the air for 15 days and 12 hours.

The final spaceflight

In 2000, Kalpana Chawla was selected for her second spaceflight and became a member of Mission STS-107. However, due to various reasons, the operation was delayed 18 times and in 2003 it was reactivated. The astronaut team, which was preparing to take part in it, faced about 80 training tests. The astronaut team involved in the mission consisted of seven members, and the other astronaut who was there with Kalpana Chawla was Dr. Laurel B. Clark is a U.S. Navy captain.

The shuttle, which left the Kennedy Space Center on January 16, returned to the Kennedy Space Center after completing its mission on February 1, 2003. During the launch of the aircraft on January 16, a small part of the aircraft escaped from the outer tank and crashed into the thermal insulation panels on the left wing of the aircraft. So when the spacecraft returned to Earth, it caught fire. All members of the Columbia shuttle, including Kalpana Chawla, were tragically killed in the crash. The wreckage of the spacecraft and its astronauts was later found in the states of Texas and Louisiana, making it the largest space crash since the 1986 Challenger shuttle explosion.

Being evaluated

In 2004, Kalpana Chawla was awarded the Astronauts Medal of Honor by the American Congress in recognition of her contribution to the field of aerospace in the United States. At the time, it was only offered to 28 astronauts. In addition, NASA also honors Kalpana with the NASA Space Flying Medal and the NASA Medal for Distinguished Service.

In 2003, the Prime Minister of India proposed to name the Metsat-1 satellite, which was launched on September 1, 2002, “Kalpana” in honor of Kalpana Chawla. The Government of Karnataka will also launch the ‘Kalpana Chawla Award’ in 2004 to recognize women for their outstanding contribution to the field of science.

The University of Texas, where Kalpana was educated, did not forget to pay tribute to the heroine who created them, and in 2004 one of its hostels was renamed ‘Kalpana Chawla Hall’. Back in 2010, another monument was erected to her in the engineering department of the university.

NASA also named seven astronauts, including Kalpana Chawla, who died on board the Columbia Shuttle, a mountain range with seven peaks found on Mars during a rover mission to Mars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate ยป