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Image depicting Astronaut Kalpana Chawla

Astronaut Kalpana Chawla, we wish you a Happy Birthday!


Recommended for Middle Grades

Today, 17th March is the birthday of Astronaut Kalpana Chawla, the first female of Indian origin who went into space. She was an American astronaut.

Kalpana was born in 1962 in Karnal, Haryana, India. As a child, she liked to draw aeroplanes. She did her master’s in aerospace engineering, from the University of Texas, and earned a second master’s and PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) in aerospace engineering. Thereafter she joined NASA.

Key facts!

  • Her first space mission was on November 17, 1996, with 6 other astronauts. They flew in Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87.
  • In the year 2000, she was selected for her second mission STS 107. There were some technical problems because of which flight operations were postponed for 2 years.
  • In January 2003, she again went to space in Space Shuttle Columbia STS 107. The crew conducted several experiments in space.
  • Unfortunately, on February 1, 2003, the space shuttle crashed when it was returning back into the earth’s atmosphere. All seven crew members including astronaut Kalpana Chawla died.
  • During her first mission, she said “You are just your intelligence.” She completed 30 days, 14 hours, and 54 minutes in space in all.
  • She received the following memorial awards-
    1. Congressional Space Medal of Honor
    2. NASA space flight medal
    3. NASA distinguished service medal
  • She made everyone proud with her career and accomplishments. She is a great example of what women can achieve by opting for STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.

Author: Shreya Rajput

Related Articles!

In-flight footage of Space Shuttle Flight 113, also known as STS-107 (NASA) with Kalpana Chawla and other crew members.

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