KALPANA CHAWLA – American Astronaut

Kalpana Chawla was an American astronaut and engineer, who was the first woman of Indian origin to go to space. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. Her second flight was on STS-107, the final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003.

Born: March 17, 1962, in Karnal, India

Died: 1 February 2003, Texas, United States

Space missions: STS-107, STS-87

Spouse: Jean-Pierre Harrison (m. 1983–2003)

Education: University of Colorado Boulder (1988), University of Texas at Arlington (1982–1984).

Awards: Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Space Flight Medal.

First Opportunity to fly

Second Opportunity to fly

On February 1, 2003, as the world waited for the return of the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-107, it disintegrated over Texas during its re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. The disaster killed a seven-member crew including Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian woman to have been to space.

Seventeen years later, her father, Banarasi Lal Chawla, says that Kalpana had one dream only – that no child, especially girls, should ever be deprived of education.


About pursuing a dream, Kalpana said that the path from dreams to success does exist. One needs to have the vision to find it, and the courage to get onto it. Yes, success is possible. Her life is an example of that.


Chawla died on 1 February 2003, in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, along with the other six crew members, when the Columbia disintegrated over Texas during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107.

Categories: News