This got us thinking about the achievements of Indians when it comes to space exploration,the first name which came to my mind was Kalpana Chawla.
One really has to be living under a rock if one has not heard about Kalpana Chawala, her achievements Kalpana Chawla have not been hidden from anyone.
As a child, Kalpana was fascinated by aeroplanes and flying. She went to local flying clubs and watched planes with her father.
After getting a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering, she moved to the United States and obtained a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas.
In 1988, she began working at NASA Ames Research Center, much of Chawla's research is included in technical journals and conference papers.
Chawla held a Certificated Flight Instructor rating for airplanes, gliders and Commercial Pilot licenses for single and multi-engine airplanes, seaplanes and gliders. After 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.
First space mission
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 woman to fly in space. She spoke the following words while traveling in the weightlessness of space,"You are just your intelligence."
During STS-87, she was responsible for deploying the Spartan satellite which malfunctioned, necessitating a spacewalk by Winston Scott and Takao Doi to capture the satellite. A five-month NASA investigation fully exonerated Chawla by identifying errors in software interfaces and the defined procedures of flight crew and ground control.
Second space mission
In 2001, Chawla was selected for her second flight as part of the crew of STS-107.
Chawla’s prolific career came to a tragic end after she died on February 1, 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.
Chawla's remains were identified along with those of the rest of the crew members and were cremated and scattered at Zion National Park in Utah in accordance with her wishes.