Kalpana Chawla was born in Karnal, Haryana, on 17th March 1962. From a young age, Kalpana was fascinated by planes. She attended Punjab Engineering College from where she attained a degree in Aeronautical Engineering.
Kalpana got her Master's degree in Aerospace Engineering from University of Texas. She was also a PhD in aerospace engineering from University of Colorado Boulder. Her excellent academic history and extremely sharp mind got her into NASA in 1988.
In 1993, she became the Vice President of Overset Methods Inc. She also served as a Research Scientist in Overset Methods simultaneously. Kalpana Chawla was a certified Flight Instructor. She joined NASA Astronaut Corps in 1995.
Kalpana Chawla made the whole nation proud when she became the first woman of Indian origin to fly in space in November 1997. She was a part of the six member crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. During the mission, she was the person responsible for deploying Spartan Satellite.
In 2003, after a series of delays, Kalpana's second space mission STS-107 mission commenced. A piece of foam insulation broke off from the Space Shuttle's external tank and impacted the left wing of the orbiter during the launch of the mission.
When the shuttle re-entered the atmosphere of the Earth, the internal wing structure was absolutely destroyed. All the six crew members, including Kalpana Chawla lost their lives. In February 2005, the Indian Satellite MetSat-1 was renamed Kalpana-1 in honor of the astronaut. She was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Mission of Honor.
NASA also dedicated one of it's supercomputer to Kalpana Chawla. Numerous scholarship programs and science wings of various institutions around the world have been named after her. Kalpana Chawla inspired innumerable youngsters of the world to take interest in space.