7 Facts About The Brilliant Kalpana Chawla, A Woman We’re Proud To Look Up To

Kalpana Chawla, the first female astronaut of Indian origin died in space on February 1, 2003.

It’s been 15 years since her death and yet she continues to inspire all.


On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle ‘Columbia’ disintegrated over Texas as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere. Thereby killing all seven crew members, which included Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian woman in space. The space shuttle exploded a mere sixteen minutes before landing on Earth. 

Here are some of the interesting facts about her and her extraordinary life.

1. As a child, Kalpana Chawla use to love drawing airplanes.

kalpana child

2. She received a degree in Bachelors of Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh.

kalpana young

She then moved to the United States in 1982 to obtain double masters and Ph.D. in aerospace engineering.

3. Kalpana Chawla first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator.

kalpana in space

4. In 1997, she became the first Indian-born woman and the second Indian person to fly in space.

kalpana chawla space

Her first flight was on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. The mission began on November 19, 1997, and Kalpana was a part of a six-astronaut crew.

5. In 2000, Kalpana was selected for her second flight as a part of the crew of STS-107.

kalpana chawla before the launch

The mission got repeatedly delayed and was finally launched in 2003. On February 1, 2003, the space shuttle disintegrated over Texas while trying to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Over the course of the 16-day flight, the crew completed more than 80 experiments.

6. Kalpana Chawla logged 30 days, 14 hours, and 54 minutes in space over the course of her two missions.


7. In her honor, the first satellite of Met-Sat series, “MetSat-1”, launched by India on September 12, 2002, was renamed “Kalpana-1”.

kalpana-chawla 3

We hope she keeps inspiring others!

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Posted by

Hema Sanghavi

A crazy Bibliophile who is an ambivert. Harry Potter fanatic, and a foodie. Usually ends up reading fan-fiction and dreams of writing one!

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