Today i am Remembering a great lady once again.
Kalpana Chawla: (7 March 1962 ' 1 February 2003), was an Indian-born American astronaut and space shuttle mission specialist. She was one of seven crewmembers lost aboard Space Shuttle Columbia during mission STS-107 when the shuttle disintegrated upon reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Kalpana Chawla is a posthumous recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
Kalpana Chawla was born into a Hindu family in Karnal, Haryana, India. Kalpana in Sanskrit means “idea” or “imagination”. Her interest in flying was inspired by J. R. D. Tata, a pioneering Indian pilot and industrialist. She met her husband, Jean-Pierre Harrison, a flying instructor and aviation writer, at the University of Colorado where she pursued her doctorate.
Kalpana Chawla studied aeronautical engineering at Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh, India, in 1982 where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree. She was one of the three women in the college at the time. She moved to the United States in 1982 and obtained a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington (1984). Chawla earned a second Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering in 1986 and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Later that year she began working for NASA Ames Research Center. Chawla held a Certificated Flight Instructor rating for airplanes, gliders and Commercial Pilot licenses for single and multiengine airplanes, seaplanes and gliders. She held an FCC issued Technician Class Amateur Radio license with the call sign KD5ESI. Kalpana Chawla married Jean-Pierre Harrison in 1983 and became a naturalized United States citizen in 1990.
Chawla joined the NASA astronaut corps in March 1995 and was selected for her first flight in 1996. Her first space mission began on November 19, 1997 as part of the six astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. Chawla was the first Indian-born woman and the second person of Indian origin to fly in space, following cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma who flew in 1984 in a Soviet spacecraft. It must be noted that while Rakesh Sharma represented India, Chawla was an American astronaut who represented the United States. Sharma and Chawla never met despite their common interests.
On her first mission Chawla travelled over 10.4 million miles in 252 orbits of the earth, logging more than 360 hours in space. 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 identified errors in software interfaces and flight crew and ground control procedures. Chawla was fully exonerated and significant changes to procedures and software resulted from the final report.
After the completion of STS-87 post-flight activities, Chawla was assigned to technical positions in the astronaut office, her performance in which was recognized with a special award from her peers. In 2000 she 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 January 16, 2003 Chawla finally returned to space aboard Columbia on the ill-fated STS-107 mission.
Chawla’s responsibilities included the SPACEHAB/FREESTAR microgravity experiments, for which the crew conducted nearly 80 experiments studying earth and space science, advanced technology development, and astronaut health and safety.
Chawla’s last visit to India was during the 1991 - 1992 new year holiday when she and her husband spent time with her family. For various reasons, Chawla was never able to follow up on invitations to visit India after she became an astronaut.
Chawla was a vegan. On her mission, she carried a white silk banner as part of a worldwide campaign to honor teachers, as well as nearly two dozen CDs, including ones by Abida Parveen, Yehudi Menuhin, Ravi Shankar, and Deep Purple. She went to her first rock concert, a Deep Purple show, in 2001 with her husband. “Kalpana is not necessarily a rock music aficionado,” her husband said of a Deep Purple show, “…but (she) nevertheless characterized the show as a ’spiritual experience.’” She enjoyed birdwatching, backpacking, hiking, flying, and reading. Quoting philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca she always said, “I was not born for one corner; the whole world is my native land.”
- Congressional Space Medal of Honor
- NASA Space Flight Medal
- NASA Distinguished Service Medal
- Defense Distinguished Service Medal (DDSM)
Any how she was the Best One…