US Spacecraft to Be Named in Honour of Kalpana Chawla

A commercial cargo spacecraft bound for the International Space Station will fly in Kalpana Chawla’s honour.

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The Indian American
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Kalpana Chawla, an Indian-American astronaut and the first woman of Indian origin in space.
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A commercial cargo spacecraft bound for the International Space Station will fly under the name of fallen NASA astronaut, Kalpana Chawla, who was the first Indian-born woman to enter space.

The NG-14 Cygnus spacecraft, 'S.S. Kalpana Chawla', was named after her in light of her pivotal role in and contribution to human spaceflight.

"Chawla was selected in honour of her prominent place in history as the first woman of Indian descent to go to space", reads the statement put out by Northrop Grumman, an American global aerospace and defence technology company.

For the NG-14 mission, the Cygnus spacecraft, 'S.S. Kalpana Chawla' will deliver approximately 3,629 kg (8,000lb.) of cargo to the International Space Station.

The launch is scheduled to take place on 29 September from from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

US Spacecraft to Be Named in Honour of Kalpana Chawla
(Photo Courtesy: nasa.gov)

Who is Kalpana Chawla?

Kalpana Chawla was born in Karnal, Haryana, on 17 March 1962. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College in India in 1982.

Chawla then moved to the United States to pursue her graduate education; in 1984 she received a Master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas, and a PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado in 1988.

Chawla began her career at NASA in 1988 as a powered-lift computational fluid dynamics researcher at the Ames Research Center in California. Her work concentrated on the simulation of complex air flows encountered by aircraft flying in “ground-effect.”

In 1993, Chawla joined Overset Methods Inc as vice president and a researcher in aerodynamics.

Chawla applied for the NASA astronauts corps. She was selected in December 1994, and reported to the Johnson Space Center in Houston in 1995 as an astronaut candidate in Group 15.

In November 1996, Chawla was assigned as a mission specialist on STS-87 aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, becoming the first woman of Indian descent to fly in space.

“Chawla, who devoted her entire life to understanding flight dynamics, lost her life during the STS-107 mission when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. While Chawla made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the space program, her legacy lives on through her fellow astronauts and those she has inspired to follow in her footsteps,” the statement read.

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