Kalpana Chawla Indo-American astronaut
Indian woman of origin to go to space. Kalpana Chawla was born on 17 March 1962 in Karnal, a city located in the Indian state of Haryana later her official date of birth, enable her to appear for her matriculation examination, was 1 July 1961. In 2003, Chawla was one of the seven crew members who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when the spacecraft disintegrated(break up into small parts as the result of impact or decay.)during its re-entry into the Earth.
- As she was a child, Kalpana was strongly attracted to aeroplanes and flying.
- Her father Banarasi Lal Chawla, originally from the Multan district of West Punjab, relocated Haryana after the country was partitioned in Indian 1947.
- After coming to India, he started working as a street hawker and later a cloth seller and a metal fabricator. Eventually he set up a tire manufacturing business.
- Her mother, Sanyogita Chawla, She was a homemaker. She was a very supportive and liberal lady. In that time, girl education was considered as luxury. yet she made sure that all her girls went to school.
- She had two elder sisters named Deepa and Sunita and an elder brother named Sanjay. From the very beginning, the children were encouraged to work hard and to gather knowledge.
- In the summer nights their family went to the roof top of her house for sleep, Kalpana awake for a long time watching the stars. She also became interested in airplanes early in her childhood.
- Her formal education from Tagore Bal Niketan Senior Secondary School. On that time her name is Monto, then she herself chose ‘Kalpana’ as her good name because it meant ‘imagination’.
- Bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College (PEC),1982.then her Master of science degree in aerospace engineering from University of Texas, 1984. Doctorate of philosophy in aerospace engineering from University of Colorado, 1988.
- While explaining the concept of null set in algebra, her teacher in DAV College gave the example of Indian women astronauts as there was no Indian women astronaut at that time. To everybody’s surprise, Kalpana got up to say, “Who knows Ma’am, one day this set may not be empty!”.
In 1978, Kalpana moved to Chandigarh to enter PEC with Aeronautical Engineering. She was the only female student in her batch and as she could not avail the hostel facility, she hired a small room over a garage and began to live in it, cycling to her college every day from there.
- She began to read books and magazines on aviation. In her college, she joined both the Aero Club and Astro Society shortly becoming one of the joint secretaries of these clubs, she also started learning karate, and earned a black belt.
- In 1988, Kalpana Chawla started work at NASA Ames Research Center in the area of powered-lift computational fluid dynamics.
- Her research concentrated on simulation of complex air flows encountered around aircraft such as the Harrier in “ground-effect.” Following completion of this project she supported research in mapping of flow solvers to parallel computers, and testing of these solvers by carrying out powered lift computations.
- In 1993 Kalpana Chawla joined Overset Methods Inc., Los Altos, California, as Vice President and Research Scientist to form a team with other researchers specializing in simulation of moving multiple body problems.
- She was responsible for development and implementation of efficient techniques to perform aerodynamic optimization.
- In December 1994, Kalpana Chawla reported to the Johnson Space Center in March 1995 as an astronaut candidate in the 15th Group of Astronauts.
- After she completed a year of training and evaluation, she was assigned as crew representative to work technical issues for the Astronaut Office EVA/Robotics and Computer Branches.
- Her assignments included work on development of Robotic Situational Awareness Displays and testing space shuttle control software in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory.
- In November, 1996, Kalpana Chawla was assigned as mission specialist and prime robotic arm operator on STS-87.
- In January 1998, she was assigned as crew representative for shuttle and station flight crew equipment, and subsequently served as lead for Astronaut Office’s Crew Systems and Habitability section. She flew on STS-87 (1997) and STS-107 (2003) and has logged 30 days, 14 hours and 54 minutes in space.
In 2000, Kalpana Chawla was selected as a Mission Specialist for STS-107, the final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia. It was a scientific mission and included a small laboratory, christened as ‘space hab’. The laboratory was seven meters in length, five meters in width and four meters in height.
Initially it was planned that the mission would take off on January 11, 2001; but was delayed 18 times due to technical problems and scheduling conflicts. Eventually it was launched on January 16, 2003 from Kennedy Space Center’s LC-39-A. But the launching was not without any hitch.
81.7 seconds after the launch, a piece of foam insulation broke off from the Space Shuttle external tank and struck the left wing of the orbiter, damaging it considerably. At that time, STS-107 was at an altitude of about 65,600 feet, traveling at a speed of 1,650 miles per hour.
The space shuttle remained in the space for 15 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes, 32 seconds. During this period, the mission crew worked twenty-four hours a day in two alternating shifts, performing nearly 80 experiments, focusing not only on space science, but also on health and safety of the astronauts.
After a successful trip in the space, STS-107 re-entered the earth’s atmosphere on February 1, 2003. But the crew never reached home because 16 minutes before the scheduled landing at Kennedy Space Center, the space craft disintegrated over Texas, killing each of them.
SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE
STS-87 Columbia (November 19 to December 5, 1997). STS-87 was the fourth U.S Microgravity Payload flight and focused on experiments designed to study how the weightless environment of space affects various physical processes, and on observations of the Sun’s outer atmospheric layers. Two members of the crew performed an EVA (spacewalk) which featured the manual capture of a Spartan satellite, in addition to testing EVA tools and procedures for future Space Station assembly. STS-87 made 252 orbits of the Earth, traveling 6.5 million miles in in 376 hours and 34 minutes.
STS-107 Columbia (January 16 to February 1, 2003). The 16 days flight was a dedicated science and research mission. Working 24 hours a day, in two alternating shifts, the crew successfully conducted approximately 80 experiments. The STS-107 mission ended abruptly on February 1, 2003 when Space Shuttle Columbia and her crew perished during entry, 16 minutes prior to scheduled landing.
- Chawla’s 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.
- In 1983, Kalpana Chawla married Jean-Pierre Harrison, a French-American flying instructor and a author
- After her death, ‘51826 Kalpanachawla’, an Eoan asteroid located in the outer region of the asteroid belt and ‘Chawla Hill’, one of the seven peaks in the Columbia Hill chain on planet Mars, have been named in her honor.
- To the honor India, MetSat-1, the first satellite in the meteorological series of satellites called MetSat, was renamed ‘Kalpana-1’. NASA also dedicated a supercomputer in her honor.
In 2004, the University of Texas opened a dormitory named Kalpana Chawla Hall in her honor. The girls’ hostel in University of Punjab has also been named after her. Apart from these, many other colleges and universities in India have renamed their student dormitories and hostels after her.
Kalpana Chawla Government Medical College (KCGMC) in Karnal and Kalpana Chawla Planetarium in Jyotisar, Kurukshetra also carry her legacy. In addition, numerous awards and honors have also been established in her name.
74th Street in Jackson Heights in New York City has been renamed ‘Kalpana Chawla Way’ in her honor. In Mumbai, India, a crossroad in Borivli has been renamed Kalpana Chawla Chowk.
Quotes of Kalpana
“You are just your intelligence.”
“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.”
“There are so many people who are arguing or fighting over issues which don’t have much relevance. We must all realise it is not worth it.”
“You must enjoy the journey because whether or not you get there, you must have fun on the way.”
“The journey matters as much as the goal.”
“If you want to do something, what does it matter where you are ranked?”
“The quickest way may not necessarily be the best.”
“Material interests are not the only guiding light.”
“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.”
“Do something because you really want to do it. If you’re doing it just for the goal and don’t enjoy the path, then I think you’re cheating yourself.”