Meet Kalpana Chawla
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It celebrates the culture, history, and traditions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. This month, CBD College is celebrating notable icons from the Healthcare and Science community.
BIRTH: March 17, 1962
DEATH: February 1, 2003
HOMETOWN: Haryana, India
Chawla was an Indian- American astronaut and the first woman of Indian origin in space. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. In 2003, Chawla was one of the seven crew members who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. In 1988, she began working at NASA, where she did Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research on Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing concepts. Chawla held a Certificated Flight Instructor rating for airplanes, gliders and Commercial Pilot licenses for single and multi-engine airplanes, seaplanes and gliders.
Becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in April 1991, Chawla applied for the NASA Astronaut Corps. She joined the Corps in March 1995 and was selected for her first flight in 1996. She spoke the following words while traveling in the weightlessness of space, “You are just your intelligence”. She traveled 10.67 million km, as many as 252 times around the Earth.