Today marks the 56th birth anniversary of a woman who touched the sky – Kalpana Chawla. She was the first woman of Indian origin to be in space. She has inspired millions of hearts that carry a dream to explore the world beyond.
Kalpana Chawla was born on March 17, 1961, in Karnal, Haryana, to a family that had moved to India during the partition. Kalpana’s father, Banarasi Lal Chawla was always keen to make Kalpana a doctor or a teacher. But Kalpana was adamant to change her mind. She moved to Chandigarh, where she enrolled in Punjab University’s aeronautical engineering course. She was the only girl to do so. Kalpana was the first woman to graduate in Aeronautical engineering from the university. It was her hard work that enabled her admission for her Master’s degree at the University of Texas . Kalpana’s dream was to work for NASA. In 1988, her dream came true and she got a job at the NASA Ames Research Center, working on power-lift computational fluid dynamics.
Kalpana Chawla was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honour and several streets, universities, and institutions have been named in her honor.
In 2003, when the world was waiting for Kalpana Chawla to return to earth, the news that US space shuttle Columbia disintegrated while re-entering the earth’s atmosphere burst everyone’s bubble. All seven crew members on board were lost and one of them was Indian-American Kalpana Chawla , the first woman of Indian origin to go to space.
Tributes to Kalpana Chawla, truly she is the most inspiring personality, a role model of Indians who fulfilled her dream of reaching for stars. First Indian woman to reach space, she continues to inspire teeming millions of women to kindle their imagination and follow their dreams!