Remembering Kalpana Chawla | How She Inspired Indians to Aim Beyond The Sky

Remembering Kalpana Chawla | How She Inspired Indians to Aim Beyond The Sky
Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla
Remembering Kalpana Chawla | How She Inspired Indians to Aim Beyond The Sky
Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla

On the death anniversary of Kalpana Chawla, we recount how the world has paid tribute to this inspirational figure.

When the name of Kalpana Chawla is taken, our mind goes towards space and her journey to NASA. Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian woman and second astronaut after Rakesh Sharma to fly in space. She was born on March 17, 1962, in Karnal (Haryana) and as a child, she had lots of interest in flying aeroplanes. Therefore, Chawla made it her habit to visit a local flying club with her father to see aeroplanes, and she was inspired to take to the wings since her childhood.

Will-power fetches success for Chawla

Despite growing up in a small town, she had determination and target to achieve her goal. Therefore, after getting her bachelor degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, she moved to the United States for higher education and obtained PhD degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Chawla dies in space disaster

Reaching space was her mission in life, she lost her life on February 1, 2003, in the Columbia space shuttle disaster along with six other crew members. Chawla will undoubtedly remain an inspiration for women, especially for those who want to become astronauts. After her unfortunate death, Chawla was posthumously honoured with bagful awards which she deserved.

Here are some memorable facts about Kalpana Chawla.

  • Kalpana Chawla was the mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator in her first flight onboard Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997.
  • Kalpana Chawla went for her second space mission in the Columbia space shuttle along with six other crew members on January 16, 2003.
  • Kalpana Chawla’s remains were cremated at National Park in Utah.
    Several scholarships have been named in India and the United States after her name.
  • Kalpana Chawla Chatravriti Yojana 2019 and Asteroid 51826 Kalpana Chawla is named after her.
  • The first satellite of the series, “MetSat-1”, launched by India on September 12, 2002, was renamed “Kalpana-1
    Jean-Pierre Harrison was the name of her husband; he was a flying instructor.
  • 74th Street in the “Little India” of Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City, New York, United States has been renamed “Kalpana Chawla Way” in her honour.
  • The Kalpana Chawla Award was instituted by the Government of Karnataka in 2004 to recognize young women scientists.
  • NASA has dedicated a supercomputer to Chawla.
  • The Kalpana Chawla ISU Scholarship fund was founded by alumni of the International Space University (ISU) in 2010 to support Indian women’s participation in international space education programs.
  • The Kalpana Chawla Memorial Scholarship program was instituted by the Indian Students Association (ISA) at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in 2005 for meritorious graduate students.
  • The girls’ hostel at Punjab Engineering College is named after Chawla. In addition, an award of INR twenty-five thousand, a medal, and a certificate is instituted for the best student in the Aeronautical Engineering department.
  • The Government of Haryana established the Kalpana Chawla Planetarium in Jyotisar, Kurukshetra.
  • The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, named the Kalpana Chawla Space Technology Cell in her honour.
  • Kalpana Chawla Government Polytechnic for Women is a polytechnic college for Women located in Ambala city, Haryana, India named after Chawla.

There are many more recognitions which have been conferred on her and Kalpana Chawla will remain an epitome of achieving aspirations and hard work for many Indians.

Kalpana is no more, but she will remain a role model for the people of all walks of life. Her life proves that self-determination is essential for achieving goals in any field.

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1 February 2003: Kalpana Chawla, Indian-American astronaut, died