14 Interesting Facts About Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-American astronaut, who desired to travel the distant horizons and fulfilled that too. Growing up in a dominant male society, she never let her dreams of flying be affected in any way. Her wish came true when she first flew on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997. She has been a role model to several women in terms of achievement and contributions to the field of aeronautics. Here are some interesting facts about this meteor of aerospace:

Kalpana Chawla

Image: hindi.boldsky.com

1. When she broke the shackles of male-dominant society!


She was born on March 17, 1962, in Karnal (in the Indian State of Haryana). She belonged to an average middle-class family. Being raised in a society where boys are favored, and girls expected to be obedient and docile, Kalpana decided to beat the odds and follow her dreams with the support of her mother.
Source: iloveindia.com, image: indianetzone.com

2. Always the first-five!

Kalpana Chawla school days

She did her schoolings from Tagore Baal Niketan Senior Secondary School, Karnal, Haryana, India and completed her B.Tech in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College at Chandigarh, India in 1982. Although she never scored the highest marks in her class, was always among the first five.
Source: Wikipedia, image: rediff.com

3. A Journey from India to the US!

Kalpana Chawla studying

To fulfill her desire of becoming an astronaut, she aimed at joining the NASA and moved to the United States in 1982. She obtained a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984.
Source: Wikipedia, image: wikimedia.org

4. The story of Monto….

Monto was the name given to Kalpana by her parents, and it became her nickname.
Source: rediff.com

5. Love in the air!

kalpana chawla with husband


She got married to Jean-Pierre Harrison in 1983, who was a flying instructor and an aviation author.
Source: iloveindia.com, image:imglop.com

6. A creative astronaut!

Kalpana liked poetry, dancing, cycling and running. She also used to take part at sports events and was invariably first in all the races. She often played badminton and dodge ball with boys.
Source: rediff.com

7. Followed her dream with utmost perseverance!


To be an astronaut she decided to have higher education. In 1986, she attained another master degree. In 1988, she completed a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Source: myinterestingfacts.com, image: Wikipedia

8. When NASA paid her efforts!

She got the position of Vice President of Overset Methods, Inc at NASA  Research Center.
Source: myinterestingfacts.com, image: cns-alumni.bu.edu

9. A diligent astronaut!


After being the vice president at NASA, she was assigned to make Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research on Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing concepts.
Source: myinterestingfacts.com, image: science.ksc.nasa.gov

10. A Certified Flight Instructor!

Kalpana Chawla

She was certified with a commercial pilot license for the seaplanes, multi-engine aircraft, and glider. She was also a Certificated Flight Instructor for glider and airplanes.
Source: myinterestingfacts.com, image: blog.scientificworld.in

11. When she became a US citizen!

She became the citizen of the United States in the year 1991.
Source: myinterestingfacts.com

12. A proud astronaut!

For her excellent services, she achieved many awards such as Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Space Flight Medal, and NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
Source: Wikipedia

13. And the tragic death!


On February 1, 2003, along with 7 crew members, she died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster which happened when the Space Shuttle disintegrated over Texas during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Source: Wikipedia, image: i.space.com

14. An astronaut that belonged to the whole universe!

Kalpana said after her first launch, “When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just of any particular piece of land, but from the solar system.”
Source: deccanchronicle.com