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Kalpana Chawla Edit Profile

astronaut , research scientist

Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian American astronaut and first Indian woman 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 seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

Background

Kalpana Chawla was born in Karnal, India.

Chawla died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster which occurred on February 1, 2003.

Education

She graduated from Tagore School, Karnal, India, in 1976 and received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from India's Punjab Engineering College in 1982.

Then, she moved to the United States to go to graduate school at the University of Texas-Arlington, where she received a master's degree in aerospace engineering in 1984. Then, she moved to Boulder, Colo., to pursue a doctorate in aerospace engineering, which she received in 1988.

Career

Chawla joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in March 1995 and was selected for her first flight in 1996. She had traveled 10.67 million km, as many as 252 times around the Earth.

Her first space mission began on November 19, 1997 as part of the six-astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. Chawla was the first Indian-born woman and the second Indian person to fly in space, following cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma who flew in 1984 in a spacecraft.