Kalpana Chawla was born on July 1, 1961 in Haryana’s Karnal district. She is the first Indian born women and Indian American to go to space . In her childhood in India, She was inspired by India’s first pilot J R D Tata and she always dreamed about flying. She did her schooling from Karnal’s Tagore School in Punjab and later studied Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab University. To give wings to her aeronautical dream, she moved to America. After obtaining a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from University of Texas in 1984, four years later, Dr. Chawla earned a doctorate in aerospace engineering from University of Colorado. In the same year, she started working at NASA’s Ames Research Center. Soon, Chawla became a US citizen and married Jean-Pierre Harrison, a freelance flying instructor. She also took keen interest in flying, hiking, gliding, travelling and reading. She loved flying aerobatics, tail-wheel airplanes. She was a strict vegetarian and was an avid music lover.
Chawla joined NASA’s space programme in 1994 and her first mission to space began on November 19, 1997 as part of a 6-astronaut crew on Space Shuttle Columbia Flight STS-87. She logged more than 375 hours in space, as she travelled over 6.5 million miles in 252 orbits of the earth during her first flight. While onboard, she was in charge of deploying the malfunctioning Spartan Satellite. As a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. Tragedy struck which ended her brilliant carrier as Chawla was one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003. Kalpana Chawla remains as a shining example how passion, dedication and hard work can bring success in life and is an inspiration for millions of women across the world aspiring to reach new heights.
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