Kalpana Chawla (17 March 1962 – 1 February 2003)[2] was an Indian-born American astronaut and aerospace engineer who was the first woman of Indian origin to fly to space.[3][4] She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator aboard STS-87.[5]

Kalpana Chawla
Born(1962-03-17)March 17, 1962
DiedFebruary 1, 2003(2003-02-01) (aged 40)
Over Texas, U.S.
Citizenship
  • India (1962–1991)
  • United States (1991–2003)
EducationPunjab Engineering College (BEng)
University of Texas, Arlington (MS)
University of Colorado, Boulder (MS, PhD)
Awards
Space career
NASA astronaut
Time in space
31d 14h 54m[1]
SelectionNASA Group 15 (1994)
MissionsSTS-87
STS-107
Mission insignia
Scientific career
FieldsAerospace engineering
ThesisComputation of Dynamics and Control of Unsteady Vortical Flows (1988)

Chawla's second flight was on STS-107, the final flight of Columbia, in 2003. She was one of the seven crew members who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when the spacecraft disintegrated during its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere on 1 February 2003.[6] Chawla was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor,[7] and several streets, universities, and institutions are named in her honor.[8][9][10]

Early life and education edit

Kalpana Chawla was born on 17 March 1962 in a Punjabi Hindu family in Karnal, Haryana.[11][12] She was born into a conservative society however she broke several traditions to become the first Indian-born female astronaut. She completed her schooling from Tagore Baal Niketan Senior Secondary School, Karnal. Growing up, Chawla went to local flying clubs and watched planes with her father.[13] After graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, India, Chawla moved to the United States in 1982. In 1984, she graduated with a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington,[14] and went on to earn a second Master's in 1986 and a PhD[15] in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado Boulder.[16][17]

Career edit

In 1988, Chawla joined NASA's Ames Research Center, where she initially conducted computational fluid dynamics research on vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) concepts. Much of Chawla's research is included in technical journals and conference papers. In 1993, she joined Overset Methods, Inc. as vice president and Research Scientist specializing in simulation of moving multiple body problems. Chawla held a Certified Flight Instructor rating for airplanes, gliders and Commercial Pilot licenses for single and multi-engine airplanes, seaplanes and gliders. After becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in April 1991, she applied for the NASA Astronaut Corps.[18] Chawla joined the corps in March 1995 and was selected for her first flight in 1997.

First space mission of Kalpana Chawla edit

Chawla's first space mission began on 19 November 1997, as part of the six-astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. Chawla was the first Indian woman to go in space. She spoke the following words while traveling in the weightlessness of space: "You are just your intelligence." Chawla had traveled 10.67 million km, as many as 252 times around the Earth. On her first mission, Chawla travelled 10.4/6.5 million miles in 252 orbits of the Earth, logging more than 376 hours (15 days and 16 hours) in space.[19][7] During STS-87, she was responsible for deploying the Spartan Satellite which malfunctioned, necessitating a spacewalk by Winston Scott and Takao Doi to capture the satellite. A five-month NASA investigation exonerated[20] Chawla by identifying errors in software interfaces[21] and the defined procedures of the flight crew and ground control. After the completion of STS-87 post-flight activities, Chawla was assigned to technical positions in the astronaut office to work on the space station.

Second space mission and death edit

 
The crew of STS-107 in October 2001. From left to right: Brown, Husband, Clark, Chawla, Anderson, McCool, Ramon

In 2000, Chawla was selected for her second flight as part of the crew of STS-107. This mission was repeatedly delayed due to scheduling conflicts and technical problems such as the July 2002 discovery of cracks in the shuttle engine flow liners. On 16 January 2003, Chawla finally returned to space aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on the ill-fated STS-107 mission. The crew performed nearly 80 experiments studying Earth and space science, advanced technology development, and astronaut health and safety.

During the launch of STS-107, Columbia's 28th mission, a piece of foam insulation broke off from the Space Shuttle external tank and struck the port wing of the orbiter. Previous shuttle launches had seen minor damage from foam shedding,[22] but some engineers suspected that the damage to Columbia was more serious. NASA managers limited the investigation, reasoning that the crew could not have fixed the problem if it had been confirmed.[23]

When Columbia re-entered the atmosphere of Earth, the damage allowed hot atmospheric gases to penetrate and destroy the internal wing structure, which caused the spacecraft to become unstable and break apart.[24] After the disaster, Space Shuttle flight operations were suspended for more than two years, similar to the aftermath of the Challenger disaster. Construction of the International Space Station (ISS) was put on hold; the station relied entirely on the Russian Roscosmos State Corporation for resupply for 29 months until Shuttle flights resumed with STS-114 and 45 months for crew rotation.

Chawla died on 1 February 2003, in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, along with the other six crew members, when Columbia disintegrated over Texas during reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107.[25] Her remains were identified along with those of the rest of the crew members and were cremated and scattered at Zion National Park in Utah in accordance with her wishes.[26]

Honours and recognition edit

Private life edit

On 2 December 1983, Kalpana Chawla was married to Jean-Pierre Harrison at the age of 21.[16] After the Columbia disaster, Harrison was approached by filmmakers to make a movie on Chawla's life, but he refused because he prefers to keep their life private.[47]

In popular culture edit

Mega Icons (2018–2020), an Indian documentary television series on National Geographic about prominent Indian personalities, dedicated an episode to Chawla's achievements.[48] In the 2023 movie "A Million Miles Away" about Mexican farmworker turned astronaut Jose Hernandez, Kalpana Chawla is played by actress Sarayu Blue.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Dismukes, Kim (7 May 2009). "Kalpana Chawla – STS-107 Crew Memorial". NASA. Archived from the original on 6 November 2004. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Kalpana Chawla Birth Anniversary: Here are lesser-known facts about the first woman of Indian origin to fly to space". Hindustan Times. 16 November 2020. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  3. ^ Salim Rizvi (11 December 2006). "Indo-US astronaut follows Kalpana's footsteps". New York: BBC. Retrieved 20 November 2012. Almost four years after the death of the first American astronaut Kalpana Chawla in the Columbia space shuttle disaster, Nasa has sent another woman of Indian origin into space.
  4. ^ Nola Taylor Redd. "Kalpana Chawla: Biography & Columbia Disaster". Space.com. Tech Media Network. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Dr. Kalpana Chawla, astronaut and aerospace engineer, was the first Indian woman in space". AWIS. 11 May 2021. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
  6. ^ "Kalpana Chawla". NBC News. 30 December 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Astronaut Bio: Kalpana Chawla" (PDF). NASA. May 2004. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  8. ^ a b Rajghatta, Chidanand (12 July 2004). "NY has Kalpana Chawla Way". The Times of India. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  9. ^ a b Saxena, Ambuj (14 March 2007). "Kalpana Chawla Space Technology Cell | Flickr – Photo Sharing!". Flickr. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  10. ^ a b "IBN News". Ibnlive.in.com. 3 February 2010. Archived from the original on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  11. ^ "India's ever-shining star: Today marks 20 years of Kalpana Chawla's last trip to space". The Times of India.
  12. ^ Harrison, Jean-Pierre. (2011). The edge of time : the authoritative biography of Kalpana Chawla. Los Gatos, California. ISBN 978-0-9768279-0-0. OCLC 885972649.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  13. ^ Chawla, Kalpana. American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press. April 2008. doi:10.1093/anb/9780198606697.article.6028448.
  14. ^ Chawla, Kalpana (1984), MS Thesis Optimization of cross flow fan housing for airplane wing installation, University of Texas at Arlington, p. 97
  15. ^ Chawla, Kalpana (1988), PhD Thesis Computation of dynamics and control of unsteady vortical flows, University of Colorado Boulder, p. 147
  16. ^ a b Kalpana Chawla: Biography & Columbia Disaster Space.com, 20 December 2017
  17. ^ "Who Was Kalpana Chawala: Early Life, Education, NASA Career, Death And Legacy". www.hercircle.in. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
  18. ^ Basu, Biman (May 2012). "Book Review: Biography of Kalpana Chawla" (PDF). Science Reporter. pp. 40–41. Retrieved 6 July 2013. Born on 17 March 1962 in Karnal, Haryana
  19. ^ "Kalpana Chawla biography*". www.kcgmc.edu.in. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
  20. ^ "Kalpana Chawla Government Medical College & Hospital - [KCGMC], Karnal". KGGMC.
  21. ^ 1998-04-29T00:00:00+01:00. "Columbia crew is blamed for Spartan deployment failure". Flight Global. Retrieved 6 January 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ "6.1 A History of Foam Anomalies (page 121)" (PDF). Columbia Accident Investigation Board. August 2003. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  23. ^ Marcia Dunn (2 February 2003). "Columbia's problems began on left wing". Associated Press via staugustine.com. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  24. ^ "Molten Aluminum found on Columbia's thermal tiles". USA Today. Associated Press. 4 March 2003. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  25. ^ Correspondent, A. "Space Shuttle Explodes, Kalpana Chawla dead". Rediff.
  26. ^ Leinbach, Michael; Ward, Jonathan H. (23 January 2018). "Chapter 12: Healing and Closure". Bringing Columbia home: the untold story of a lost space shuttle and her crew. New York: Arcade Publishing. ISBN 978-1-62872-852-1. A a few days later a memorial service was held for Kalpana Chawla at Zion National Monument in Utah, one of her favorite places
  27. ^ "Next Cygnus Cargo Ship Named for Columbia Astronaut Kalpana Chawla". 9 September 2020.
  28. ^ "US spacecraft named after late Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla". The Indian Hawk: Latest Indian Defence News, World Defence, IDRW, Indian Army, Air Force, Navy. 10 September 2020. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  29. ^ Laxman, Srinivas (4 October 2020). "US mission named after Kalpana Chawla". The Times of India. Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  30. ^ "Tribute to the Crew of Columbia". NASA JPL. Archived from the original on 8 February 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
  31. ^ "Lunar crater Chawla". IAU. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  32. ^ "ISRO METSAT Satellite Series Named After Columbia Astronaut Kalpana Chawla". Spaceref.com. 6 February 2003. Retrieved 10 June 2007.[permanent dead link]
  33. ^ "Kalpana Chawla Award instituted". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 23 March 2004. Archived from the original on 13 July 2004. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
  34. ^ "NASA Names Supercomputer After Columbia Astronaut". About.com. Archived from the original on 30 December 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
  35. ^ "Space Music – Rock/Pop". HobbySpace. 31 August 2005. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  36. ^ David, Peter; Star Trek: Next Generation: Before Dishonor; Page 24.
  37. ^ Kalpana Chawla International Space University Scholarship Archived 1 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ "Kalpana Chawla Memorial Scholarship". UTEP. Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  39. ^ "Kalpana Chawla Award". University of Colorado. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2012.
  40. ^ "Kalpana Chawla Hall". University of Texas at Arlington. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  41. ^ "Kalpana Chawla Display Dedicated at Nedderman Hall". The University of Texas at Arlington. Archived from the original on 29 September 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  42. ^ "Punjab Engineering College remembers Kalpana". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on August 27, 2006. Retrieved June 10, 2007.
  43. ^ "Space Technology Cell". Kcstc.iitkgp.ernet.in. Archived from the original on 30 December 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  44. ^ "Delhi University". Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  45. ^ "Pondicherry University".
  46. ^ "Hostel No 7 (Kalpana Chawla Bhawan) | Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology ,Government of India". www.manit.ac.in.
  47. ^ Dhar, Abira (27 April 2017). "Exclusive: Kalpana Chawla's Husband Denies Rights to Make Biopic". The Quint. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  48. ^ "Mega Icons Season 2 Episode 4". Disney+ Hotstar. Retrieved 12 June 2021.

Further reading edit

  • Among the Stars!: Life and Dreams of Kalpana Chawla by Gurdeep Pandher
  • India's 50 Most Illustrious Women (ISBN 81-88086-19-3) by Indra Gupta
  • Kalpana Chawla: A Life (ISBN 0-14-333586-3) by Anil Padmanabhan
  • The Edge of Time: The Authoritative Biography of Kalpana Chawla (ISBN 978-0976827917) by Jean-Pierre Harrison

External links edit