Kalpana Chawla death anniversary: Interesting facts about India's first woman astronaut

S7 News


Kalpana Chawla was the first woman of Indian-origin to fly to space, and in her will she had said that after her demise her ashes be either scattered over the Himalayas or the Zion National Park in Utah.

Born in Karnal in 1962, she was one of the seven crew members who died in the disaster in 2003 when Columbia disintegrated during its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

Here are some lesser-known facts about India's first woman astronaut, you ought to know

  • Kalpana Chawla’s main source of inspiration was JRD Tata, who was India’s first licensed pilot.

  • The astronaut started working at the NASA Ames Research Centre in 1988 and became a naturalised US citizen in April 1991. Later she applied for NASA Astronaut Corps and joined there in 1995.

  • In 1997, Kalpana was part of six-astronaut crew who were on the mission Space Shuttle Columbia. The mission made her the first Indian origin woman and second Indian to fly in space.

  • Three years after her first flight she was chosen as the crew in STS-107. After much delay, the mission commenced in 2003. Unfortunately, the 16-day flight, that took off on January 16 collapsed 16 minutes before landing the earth’s atmosphere.

  • Chawla learnt everything that caught attention including bharatnatyam, karate and scuba diving.

  • The astronaut’s first application to NASA was rejected in 1993 and was accepted after she applied again in 1995.

  • Here are few things named after the astronaut: A NASA supercomputer, a hill on Mars, an asteroid, a planetarium in Kurukshtra and India’s first weather satellite called ‘Kalpana 1’.

Here are five inspirational quotes by Kalpana Chawla:

  • I stopped thinking about it after trying to figure out what are the lessons learned, and there are so many. After I had basically sorted that out, I figured it’s time to really look at the future and not at the past.

  • This planet below you is our campsite, and you know of no other campground.

  • When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system.

  • The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it. Wishing you a great journey.

  • The coolest thing for me is the experience of floating and not feeling my weight. And hanging by a window just after sunset and watching the stars in the big black dome of the sky as the earth moves underneath.


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