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10 Lesser Know Facts About Kalpana Chawla

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You are just your intelligence”
– Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla made us all proud by becoming the first woman of Indian origin to go into space. She was an aeronautical engineer. In 1993, Kalpana Chawla joined Overset Method, Inc. as Vice President and research scientist specializing in simulation and multiple body problems. She made her dream of going into space a reality by persistence and hard work. Despite being born in a male dominant society, she fulfilled each and every one of her dreams. She accomplished many great things and has been a source of inspiration to many people around the world, especially women.

Here are some lesser known facts about Kalpana Chawla:-

Change in date of birth

She was born on March 17, 1962, but her date of birth was changed to 1 July 1961, so she could become eligible for marticulate examination.

Weird Name

Her parents gave her the name Monto but she changed her name to Kalpana and Monto became her nickname.

Hobbies and Licenses

Kalpana Chawla loved hiking, backpacking, and reading. She had certificate flight instructor’s license with airplane and glider rating, commercial pilot’s license for single and multi-engine land and seaplanes and instrument rating for the airplane. Her love for flying influenced her to become an aeronautical engineer and then in going on space missions.


She obtained a degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College and was the first woman in her batch to do so. After that, she immigrated to the U.S. and became a neutralized citizen in 1980. She completed her master’s degree from the University of Texas and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado.

Start at NASA

Her work with NASA began in 1988 when she went to work for the Ames Research Centre in California where she worked on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).

The Two Missions

She went on two space missions. First, on November 1997 in the space shuttle Columbia on flight STS-87 which made 252 orbits of Earth in two weeks. In 2000, she was selected for her second voyage but the mission was delayed till 2003 due to some problems. The crew completed 80 experiments in 16 days.


Kalpana Chawla was awarded many awards during her lifetime, namely- Congressional Space Medal Of Honour, NASA Space Flight Medal, and NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

The story of 16

Kalpana with her team of other six members went on her second mission in the space shuttle Columbia on flight STS-107 on 16 January on a 16-day mission. While returning their space shuttle disintegrated 16 minutes before the scheduled landing.


Many honors and recognition have been given to her. A dormitory has been named after her in the University of Texas at Arlington. A hill on Mars has been named Chawla hill, which is one of the seven peaks of Columbian Hills. The Karnataka Government gives Kalpana Chawla award to recognize young women scientist.NASA dedicated a supercomputer to her. The Kalpana Chawla Planetarium in Jyotisar, Kurukshetra was established by the government of Haryana. These are just a few examples, there are many more achievements to her name.


During her two missions, Kalpana Chawla spent about 30 days, 14 hours and 54 minutes in space.

Kalpana Chawla was selected as an astronaut in December 1994.

The people who knew her referred to her as kind, humorous, joyful and a hard working person. After her first launch, she said,” 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”. She was a motivated and inspirational human being. Once in an interview, she was asked that who inspires her to which she replied that she was motivated by people who are giving it their all. The sudden death of Kalpana Chawla and her six crewmates left the entire world in shock. She left a mark in the world and will be remembered forever.

Written by: Priyanshi

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