Today is the 18th death anniversary of India's first woman astronaut Kalpana Chawla. Eighteen years back on this day Kalpana Chawla and an American astronaut were one of the seven crew members who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when the craft disintegrated during its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. But even after her, she continues to inspire everyone. Especially young women who aspire to be astronauts.
After astronaut Rakesh Sharma Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian-born woman and the second Indian person to fly in space. She was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. On this legend lady's death anniversary I'm going to share the 10 unknown facts.
1. Kalpana Chawla was born on March 17, 1962, in Punjab's Karnal, now Haryana.
2. In her childhood, Kalpana Chawla used to love drawing aeroplanes.
3. She received a degree in Bachelors of Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh. Then she moved to the United States in 1982 to obtain double masters and PhD in aerospace engineering.
4. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997, as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator.
5. After completing Space Shuttle Columbia post-flight activities, she was assigned to technical positions in the astronaut office to where she was offered to work on the space station.
6. She was chosen for the second space mission along with other six crew numbers. On January 16, 2003, she returned to space aboard Space Shuttle Columbia.
7. Kalpana Chawla and other crew members died due to the ill-fated disaster on February 1, 2003.
8. At National Park in Utah following her wishes Kalpana Chawla's remains were cremated and scattered.
9. The first satellite of Met-Sat series, "MetSat-1", launched by India on September 12, 2002, was renamed as "Kalpana-1" in her honour.
10. In India as well as in the United States, several scholarships, streets, universities and institutions have been named in her honour.