Today is Kalpana Chawla’s 13th death anniversary. Kalpana Chawla was an Indian-American astronaut and the first India-born woman in space. She was part of the ill-fated Colombia Space Shuttle mission and was killed when the spacecraft disintegrated while returning to earth on February 1, 2003.
Here are some amazing things about her that you may not know:
She had a PhD in aerospace engineering from University of Colorado, 1988.
She held a Certificated Flight Instructor’s license with airplane and glider ratings, Commercial Pilot’s licenses for single- and multi-engine land, seaplanes and gliders, and instrument rating for airplanes.
In November 1996, Chawla was assigned as mission specialist and prime robotic arm operator on STS-87. She flew on STS-87 (1997) and STS-107 (2003), logging a total of 30 days, 14 hours and 54 minutes in space.
The Kalpana Chawla Award was instituted in 2004 by the Government of Karnataka for awarding young women scientists.
The metereological satellite MetSat-1 launched in 2002 was renamed Kalpana-1 in her memory by the Government of India.
The Government of Haryana established the Kalpana Chawla Planetarium as a mark of respect.
51826 kalpanachawla is an asteroid named after the astronaut in her honour.
She has been posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honour, the NASA Space Flight Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.