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11 Things about Astronaut Kalpana Chawla the World Needs to Know 

“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.” – Kalpana ChawlaThe whole world witnessed a grave tragedy when 15 years ago, NASA’s Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated. As the crew was returning home to be welcomed, the accident claimed their lives mercilessly. Among them was Kalpana Chawla, the proud woman who was and is an inspiration to women worldwide.Kalpana, the first Indian woman in space would have been 56 today. On her death birthday, we reminisce snippets from the life of this inspirational lady.

1. The birthplace

She was born on March 17, 1962 in Karnal, Haryana. Being from an average family, she decided to beat her circumstances to become the first Indian woman in space.

2. Glance at schooling

She completed her B.Tech in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College. She wasn’t a topper, but one among the brightest in her class.

3. Higher studies

She obtained her MSc degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas after she moved to the USA in 1982.

4. Multitalented

Her skills were also profoundly portrayed in the fields of dancing, cycling, running, poetry and dancing.

5. The pretty nickname

She was named Manto but afterwards, she selected the name Kalpana and used the other as a nickname.

6. Journey of love

In 1983, she married Jean-Pierre Harrison. He was an aviation author and flying instructor.

7. Connection with NASA

Before becoming an astronaut, she held different positions in the organisation. She was Vice President of Overset Methods, Inc at NASA Research Centre.

8. Dream to fly

Long before becoming an astronaut, she accomplished her love for flying by becoming a Certificated Flight Instructor for glider and airplanes. Also, she had a commercial pilot license for the glider, multi-engine airplanes, and seaplanes.

9. The citizenship and application

She became a USA citizen in 1991, she applied for the membership of NASA Astronaut corps.

10. Invitation to India

Then-Prime Minister of India, IK Gujral, spoke to her during her STS-87 mission. This proud Indian was supposed to visit this country but sadly it never took place.

11. Awards

She received NASA Distinguished Service Medal and Congressional Space Medal of Honor and NASA Space Flight Medal.

Always alive

Sadly she is not among us anymore but is still alive in the memory of thousands of her admirers and also among the things named after her.-A hill on Mars-A planetarium in Kurukshetra, near Karnal-A NASA Supercomputer-India's first weather satellite, the Kalpana 1-An asteroid, the 51826 Kalpana Chawla. It circles between Jupiter and Mars.