Monday, July 4, 2022


The Mask-erade

This image was taken by Aryana

By Ishaan & Aryana

On the 24th of March, 2022 Ascend international’s highly anticipated event of the year took place: the Spring “Mask-erade” dance hosted by the Interact Rotary club.

Teacher leader of the club Ms. Leslie Bartley along with student-president Xai Sarkari and Vice President Tarana Ramachandra worked with the team of service club members to put together this event, charging ₹350 or ₹400 per entry to raise money to fund more events  

On this special night, grades 6-11 rocked the dance floor to Hollywood and Bollywood favorites, with a fantastic DJ who contributed greatly to the success of the dance. 

According to head of publicity/marketing, Lara Phul, she thinks the dance was great because it was a fundraiser, and something for students to look forward to and enjoy . It was also an opportunity that we didn’t often get presented with especially after COVID. Ms Leslie, the teacher in charge, said “I absolutely loved the dance. I was so thankful for our parent volunteers that ensured all of our food was served, and especially Mr. Zubin for DJ’ing the entire thing and taking requests all along. What a hit!”

Another attendee of the dance, Gaia Daga, said “It was a great fundraiser and was good for the publicity of the interact group. It was fun and chill, and there should be more dances in the future. It was a good break from normal school and really brought the spirit of Ascend’s students”

The night went smoothly and everyone is looking forward to hopefully hosting another event like this one, special thanks to the Interact Rotary club at Ascend for hosting this fabulous evening!

Below are some behind the scenes pictures for setting up the dance which was clicked by Aryana. 

Its Time to Take Action

Made by Jaana Sinha

By Jaana Sinha

(Poster created by Jaana Sinha, a Grade 10 student)

Think of every person in your life, then think of everyone that has made you angry, upset. Sad or depressed. Every time your head heats up, and one day you can’t take the capacity of those people. So you just give up on everything, and turn into a zombie full of nothingness. That is the world with a large amount of waste. Waste is like people, toxic and draining of life.

Who Rules LA?

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by Shreyan Gorantala

On the 26th of February, the battle of who ruled Los Angeles was on at the Arena (Los Angeles Lakers stadium) with the derby between the Los Angeles Clippers taking on home team Los Angeles Lakers, to see who really is the better side between the two. 

The Clippers narrowly escaped last time edging a victory by 1 point with the scoreboard standing at 111 – 110 in favor of the Clippers. The Lakers coming back from the annual All-Star break, wanted to break their losing streak whilst seeking revenge at their home stadium and take over the Clippers to gain the 8th position in the Western conference to have a better chance to qualify for the playoffs. Another reason was to prove to the basketball world that the Lakers are back and will be a happy sight for all the Los Angeles Lakers fans. 

The Clippers still missing Kawhi Leonard, their star player this entire season, and their second star Paul George, who suffered an ankle injury on December 6th, 2021, against Portland Trail Blazers, and was never seen entering the court ever since. The stars, however, were on the sidelines cheering with all their heart for their team to win, in hope of returning to the court come playoffs. The Lakers lineup looked promising, with superstars like Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and Lebron James in their roster. Lebron James was on fire in the All-Star break and hit the game-winning shot for his side, for yet another all-star game victory. Both teams fighting for their place in the playoffs fought for their badge and fought to be the kings of Los Angeles.

With the pressure on both teams and with so much riding on the game, fans knew it would be a thriller, as the tip-off went to the Lakers to start the game off. The Lakers opened up the scoreboard with a fadeaway (a shot where the person leans back and goes away from the player) from Lebron James. Although this didn’t have much effect on the Clippers, keeping their eye on the prize, and still controlled the game. In the first quarter, the Clippers played their game and their style of play but the game was evenly matched by the home side, with the Lakers falling 2 points behind to end the first quarter. 

The Clippers continued to play with intensity and with some sloppy plays from the home team, the Clippers capitalized on those moments and had a comfortable lead. The Lakers tried to come back, but the same aggression was shown throughout the second quarter, and finishing by a 10 point lead at halftime, made the Clippers the better side to win this rivalry. A huge part of this was from Terrance Mann who had taken up the role of Kawhi Leonard’s replacement and was leading the team every step of the way. Tyronne Lou (coach of the Los Angeles Clippers [LAC]), made a decision to rest Terrance Mann and made another promising player Reggie Jackson, continue where they left off. In the other team’s dressing room, the Lakers were disappointed in themselves, and without implementing any of their strategies or gameplan, they were bound to lose. It was Lebron James who stepped up and initiated the motivation for the team, and the entire team realized what was at stake. 

After the halftime break, a different attitude and atmosphere were shown on the Laker’s shirts The Clippers hoped to continue the same aggression for the next 24 minutes, while the whistle blew and the Clippers started the play. 

With the stakes, the Lakers rose up to the challenge and competed for every loose ball, every opportunity for any point, and put so much pressure on the away team that the momentum just broke into pieces. With 5 interceptions and blocks throughout the quarter, the momentum shifted sides, and as the third quarter drew to an end, the scoreline read a 6 point lead to the Lakers, with a dramatic comeback. But that wasn’t for long, as the Clippers showed emotion and Terrance Mann was back on to lead the Clippers for a victory. After back and forth baskets, the Clippers found a rhythm and started to gain and increase the lead to 9 points. The Lakers coach shouted and yelled out of frustration at the players, as the final minutes were coming to an end. This however was not the case, as, with a smart timeout, the Lakers took a breather and played their basketball again. Now with both teams, playing their way of basketball, with emotion, pride, and joy, the game took an interesting turn. 

1 minute left! 3 point lead to the Clippers. WHO will win and be claimed as the kings of LA?? Back-to-back points from both teams led to a 1 point lead and the Clippers had the ball. 19 seconds to go as Marcus Morris Sr., who is a very good shooter, fired a shot whilst being guarded by Russell Westbrook. Sinking the shot in, he made 2 crucial baskets to possibly win the Clippers the game, and it did. Marcus’s shot was the game-changer. He did it once again by sinking a deep 3 to win the game in the previous encounter against the Lakers and hitting a crucial mid-ranged shot to get the victory. A beautiful sport, with a beautiful game, with two great teams. Although the Lakers didn’t win, the home side fans can’t wait on the 4th of March, and neither can the entire basketball crowd, as the Lakers will go to Staples Centre (LAC home ground), to fight back and this time win.

Life on other planets

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by Karina Bakshi

There are many reasons why we might have to leave our planet- Global warming, the sun exploding, or the danger of an asteroid. But if we leave then we have to go somewhere and find a habitable planet. There are a few which fit into this category.

Searching for exoplanets can be hard sometimes as there are very specific conditions that have to be fulfilled for a planet to host any life. Some of these conditions include temperature, amount of H2O (water), terrain, and atmosphere. For a while, Earth was the only planet known to house these conditions. Recently, however, some new exoplanets have been discovered such as Kepler-442b which, according to this article, may be able to host life. These planets are very earth-like and have the proper conditions to host life. But these planets are light-years away and it seems impossible to reach them. These planets could still host aliens though.

It can be quite difficult to map earth-like exoplanets because like mentioned before, the conditions are very specific. One big problem is that most of the stars in the universe are red dwarfs, which don’t produce enough energy for proper photosynthesis to occur. However, there are still a lot of sun-like stars which makes this possible but again like I said, it is very difficult to reach these planets because of the distance. Though it is possible that we could exploit things like Wormholes to reach other planets, it’s still very unlikely.

There are some planets in the solar system such as Mars, The Moon, or Titan (one of Saturn’s moons) though none of these provide all of the conditions needed to sustain life and we will still need special gear to survive. Even if we do find a way to colonize here, it is still temporary as the sun will become a red giant in a few billion years and these planets will become uninhabitable. According to this article by NASA, it is unclear whether the earth will survive the transformation of the sun, and it also stated that all of the other planets will be heated up and put further from the sun, so it would be very hard to live on these. Additionally, when the sun becomes a white dwarf, then it will emit too little energy and heat, and the planets will become too cold. 

Because of the earth-like conditions, these planets might help us find aliens. It is totally possible that there are many aliens living on earth-like planets that we just haven’t discovered yet due to the lack of proper signals. We still haven’t found any aliens but maybe if we look more at these planets we could discover something interesting. 

In conclusion, exoplanets are a very interesting topic to discuss, even though it is unlikely that we will reach any one of them anytime soon. If we do find a way however, then we could  potentially escape our impending extinction. 

Wordle: The New Internet Sensation

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by Diya Barmecha

Wordle, what started off as a game for Josh Wardle’s wife in the lockdown has now become an internet sensation. A play on his own last name, wordle is a word game that he first sent to his family chat. As he began to share it with the public and more people started to play it, the New York Times gained interest in it. The game allows for you to guess a 5 letter word.

Manavi Nag, an 11th grader who is a Wordle enthusiast says, “Everyday I wake up and look forward to doing the day’s Wordle” This sheer excitement of beating your own high score as well as showing off to everyone around you your high score allows for excitement to build. The community building that sharing of Wordle scores has encouraged is more than any other game. It allows the player to enjoy the feeling of playing against someone even when they are not available at the same time. 

This 5 letter word game has gotten everyone on their toes. However, its unique selling point is that it is a daily game, something that is not going to change anytime soon because having it daily would limit the game and allow the scarcity to create a viral sensation as Josh Wardle explained in a New York Times article. His partner Palak Shah and him narrowed the game to 2,500 eligible words. This makes the game enough to last for seven years. However, in the opinions of many other people, there is no way this game will last this long because many have said that it is becoming a bit boring and the craze is starting to die down. Those who started playing to be a part of the trend have now moved on. A 7th graders student of our class, Aarav Chokani says, “I stopped playing a long time ago.” Students and people like this have now moved on. It brings in the question if Wordle is going to continue to be an internet sensation. 

However, in addition to the dying down of the hype, there are also those who do not enjoy the game. An 8th grade student, Arav Barmecha says, “It requires too much skill and is boring.” It is evident that there are very varied opinions about this game which are changing everyday. Even though many stay loyal like 10th grade student Tara Hebbar, who explains how it is, “a fun activity to do everyday,” it is evident that the hype around this game may die down. 

In addition to this, the game has inspired many similar daily games that are modeled on the original Wordle. Wordle 2 which works on six letter words, Heardle, which makes you guess the name of the song based on the intro and Nerdle, a math equation guessing game. These games have risen up due to the popularity of daily games. Although these copycat games are fun to do, it is Wordle that is going places. After being bought from New York Times, many suspect that the game will now work on a subscription basis. Although the paper said that, “the game would initially remain free to new and existing players,” it has made no claims for the long term plans of Wordle. 

From a more technical point of view, Worlde is easily hackable where you can go to the code of the website and find out the order of the words that come everyday. This technical glitch of it enables others to spoil the game and might just be the reason for a copy-cat version of the game to be more successful. 

Although this game has brought together generations of people around the world to discuss their scores, there is a high possibility that the hype will die down or a copycat version will take over. However, until then, I highly recommend trying your hand at this viral daily word game.

Mysteries of the universe: Dark Matter and Dark Energy

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by Karina Bakshi

Though learning about the universe sometimes seems overwhelming, there is actually a lot that we don’t know. Only 5% of the universe is composed of “normal” matter (the stuff we see). The rest of it is composed of dark matter and dark energy. But what exactly are these substances?

We know that they exist because of various scientific discoveries and observations such as unknown forces and invisible matter that we know aren’t ones we already know about. There is an unknown force that is pulling our universe apart and expanding it at an accelerating rate. This is what is called dark energy. 

There is another type of unidentified force (besides gravity) that is keeping galaxies bound together. In a lot of galaxies, the mass of the stars, planets, black holes, and other matter just isn’t enough to keep itself bound together on its own. We cannot just dismiss this as gravity because gravity is too weak to do this all by itself. Instead, scientists have come to the conclusion that there has to be an invisible matter that is holding everything together with gravity. That matter is called dark matter. According to NASA, 68% of the universe is dark energy, 27% is dark matter, and only 5% is the matter we see! 

A theory made by scientists regarding dark energy is that it is a dynamic energy, fluid, or field that fills space and has an effect on the expansion of the universe which is the opposite of gravity and normal matter. This is called “quintessence” by many scientists but we still have no idea what this is or why it’s here so there’s not much to say.

 We know that dark matter is invisible matter because we cannot see it. We know that dark matter is not just dark clouds of regular matter because we cannot detect baryonic clouds (normal matter is made out of baryons). It isn’t antimatter either because it doesn’t give off gamma-ray signals when matter and antimatter particles annihilate each other (they annihilate each other because antimatter is matter but the particles in them have opposite charges). Another possibility is that it could just be huge black holes but that doesn’t make sense either because of the amount of gravitational lenses we see. It is likely that dark matter is made out of non-baryonic particles such as axions or Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPS)

Despite all of the discoveries we have made so far, we still know such little about dark matter and energy. Hopefully, we will learn more about them in the future but for now they remain a mystery. 


Legal Marriage Age

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by Sania Ambardekar

        Recently, the Union Cabinet of India approved a proposal to change the legal marriage age from 18 to 21 for women which makes their age at par with men. This would cause a Bill to be introduced in the Parliament to amend relevant sections of the Child Marriage Act, Special Marriage Act as well as the Hindu Marriage Act. In other words, marriage must be monogamous and the groom and bride must be a certain age while getting married. What’s more is that India is a country with rich socio-cultural and religious beliefs. Therefore, there are different laws governing the legal marriage age for different communities. This sometimes leaves out loopholes and creates conflicts leading to acts like Child Marriage and less opportunities, especially for women.

        The marriage age for women has been set to 18 since 1978 and changing it would have a generational impact. PM Narendra Modi has voiced out and batted for women’s empowerment in almost all his latest speeches. He spoke about women’s independence, education and self employment opportunities as well as the health and nutrition of young girls who are forced into marriage and who have multiple pregnancies at a young age. This led to the formation of a committee led by former chief of the Samata party: Jaya Jaitly. The committee explored various arenas linked to the medical well being of women and their children during pregnancies. This included things like the Infant and Mother mortality rate which are staggeringly high in India. In addition, the committee also tried to come up with measures for promoting higher education for women because it isn’t unusual for girls to be taken out of schools at a young age to coerce them into early marriages. 

         Furthermore, this Bill could increase participation of women in jobs and at the same time, ensure their physical well being. This is beneficial for the economy of the country too. When young girls get access to education and gain financial independence, it gives them a level of autonomy that they would not have had otherwise.

  Indian society usually dictates that marriage and jobs for women are mutually exclusive events, thus making it even more essential for such laws to exist for the advancement of the country. 

      Noting that Child Marriages have significantly declined from 47% in the early 2000s to 23% in 2019-2020, the government aims to bring this number down further by imposing this law. Even though the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) has been initiated since the 1900s, very few take it seriously. Unfortunately, this has led to India becoming a country with the largest number of child brides in the world, contributing to one-third of the global total.

     Child Marriage hasn’t been limited to young girls but young boys in rural villages in India are forced into it too. Although, in most cases, boys are allowed to go to school even after they are forced into child marriage. This is evidence enough to show how social norms and attitudes hold an exceedingly low value for human rights of girls and that their role is only limited to domestic chores and household responsibilities. 

       As if the situation wasn’t morbid enough already, girls forced into child marriages tend to face early, dangerous pregnancies that have severe threats to their life, contract HIV as well as face domestic violence. This not only affects young girls physically but also scars them emotionally and mentally. Bhagyashree Saini, a child marriage survivor from Rajasthan fought for 11 years to escape the social evil that is Child Marriage. Laws like the Legal Marriage age therefore must be taken seriously to not only help out survivors like Bhagyashree, but instead prevent crimes like these from occurring with innocent, young girls in the first place. 

        However, such a law does come with its controversies, debates and speculations. In many rural areas, dowry is still highly prevalent. People get their daughters married at a very young age as it allows them to pay less dowry. This is not only a social but also an economic problem. Over 63% of girls are already married under the new legal marriage age. This makes them unfairly liable to criminalisation.Opposers of this law argue that if 18 is the legal age of adulthood all over the world and if women can drive and vote at 18, why can’t they get married? In retrospect, why can’t the legal marriage age of men be lowered from 21 to 18? According to several surveys and studies, women often get married to escape abusive homes and schools. This acts as freedom rather than oppression for them and implementing this law complicates the economic welfare and wellbeing of women.       

The main reason behind the creation of this law is that the PCMA act is failing to work efficiently as the police and State authorities look the other way. This Bill can aid in the betterment of lives of women, the economy as well as break down deep rooted, patriarchal social norms and therefore should be deemed indispensable by the government and people of India.    

NBA all star games

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by Aryana Ahuja

On February 20th 2022 the NBA all – star games began. 

From Team Lebron, the starters were: Lebron James (Lakers), Giannis Anterkounmpo (Bucks), Stephen Curry (Warriors), DeMar DeRozan (Bulls) and Nikola Jokić (Nuggets) 

Monty Williams coached them. 

And from Team Durant the starters were: Kevin Durant (Nets), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia), Ja Morant (Memphis), Andrew Wiggins (Warriors) and Trae Young (Hawks).
Eric Spoelstra coached Team Durant.

Both teams were extremely powerful and dominated the court. What an interesting match, 2 teams of players who had competed for the NBA season title, now fought for the All-Star title!

The captains were chosen through a process of voting, Lebron James had 6,827,449 votes and Kevin Durant with 6,789,863.

On February 21st Stephen Curry was crowned Kia All Star MVP lifting Team Lebron to victory. 

This match went to Team Lebron with a score of 163-160 and 50 points alone were scored by Stephen Curry. 

The first quarter score was 47-45 with Lebron leading by 2 points.

The second quarter score was 46-49 with Durant leading by 3 points.

The third quarter score was 45-45 with both teams tied. 

And the final quarter score was 25-21 with Lebron leading by 4 points.

The final game score was 163 – 160 putting Durant 3 points off from the win. 

Post the game, Lebron James delivered an extremely emotional speech, where he said touching things about his relationship with the sport and the all star games, he talked about his journey and how he was ‘a kid from Akron’ just like the other players he played with that night. Here are some of the important snippets of what he said that are hard to forget. 

“I could not have dreamed of that moment, any better than the actuality that just happened.”

“I used to watch the all star game, you know 25 years ago we was 12-11 wishing that we had the opportunity or means to come up to Cleveland and see some of the greatest basketball players of all time cause they inspired us so much, and for me to be here today, my best friends, my wife, my kids, my family, my mom, there’s so many people that seen me grow from really a young toddler, to who I am today, I couldn’t picture that moment any better”

“We’re all kids from Akron, I mean you look back there and we are a group of young men who always feel like they were looked over”

“I am one of the kids from Akron that has made it, and tryna make it possible for the next generation” 

Watching the journey of how all these players progressed as legends is truly inspiring and a big congratulations to Team Lebron on an incredible journey and victory!

The Hijab Ban – Is There Space for Religion in Education?

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by Manavi Nag

Over the past two months, the state of Karnataka has grappled with a fervent debate surrounding a hijab ban for female Muslim students, sparking wide discussions in India about the role of religion within schools.  In early January a pre-university college in Udupi, Karnataka imposed a ban on its female students wearing a hijab. The school said that the girls could come to school in a hijab but once in the school, they would be required to take it off. Following this, the hijab-wearing girls of this school protested resulting in them being denied entry into the school and unable to take an exam. 

This protest, instead of allowing the girls to wear hijabs, provoked more schools in Karnataka to impose a hijab ban. Following this, there have been stand-offs between the young women and the school, with young men donning saffron shawls, a symbol of nationalistic Hinduism as a counter-protest. The hijab ban has been cited as a violation of secularism and Muslim women in India’s basic rights, however, it brings up important questions of whether religion has any space in schools and highlights a growing polarisation between Hindus and Muslims under India’s current nationalistic rule. 

Schools and leaders have cited banning the hijab as a matter of following dress codes and ensuring that there are no religious practices or demonstrations at school. However, young girls in Karnataka and India, in general, have been wearing hijabs to school for many years, sparking the question of why now are girls being denied the right of an education because of the hijab. The sudden urge to ban hijabs in schools could be a political agenda for the ruling BJP party to cement their foothold in Karnataka during elections next year by creating a Hindu-Muslim divide. The hijab ban also coincides with five states holding elections this month. The BJP relies on this polarisation of religions, especially during preparation for elections as a way of garnering support from radical Hindus. Citing uniforms and dress codes for the hijab ban can be seen as a facade to oppress young Muslim women in India because it makes them choose between education and wearing the hijab. This type of ultimatum is unjust because nobody can be denied an education because of their clothing and (in this case) by extension their religion. 

As a result of not being allowed in school, four girls filed a petition with Karnataka’s high court, asking them to overturn the hijab ban saying it is a violation of their constitutional rights to practice religion freely. The Karnataka state closed schools from February 12th to February 16th. Following this, the court has filed an interim court order requiring schools to open again and stating that students are prohibited from wearing any sort of religious clothes in classes regardless of faith. 

It is no coincidence that the hijab ban comes at a time of growing tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India, exacerbated and promoted by the ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP has often been accused of  “eroding civil liberties and undermining the country’s secular foundations,” as Wall Street Journal journalists Philip Wen and Krishna Pokharel put it, by opposition party leaders.  Many have also pointed out that other forms of religious presentations through clothing such as turbans worn by Sikh men and bindis most frequently worn by Hindu women are not being targeted as part of equalising dress codes and enforcing a uniform culture within students. Rather, Islamic displays of religion such as the hijab are being used as a tool to rid Muslim women of one of their most fundamental choices: wearing a hijab. Muslim women and especially young Muslim women who will soon be this country’s future, should not be forced to choose between practising their religion and going to school. 

What may have started out as an attempt to enforce a type of dress code has now become a political debate with the BJP backing the hijab ban whilst opposition parties call them out by saying that the ban is “ “inhuman and communal” and is a means of gaining popularity for the BJP. As we have seen in the past few years, there has been a disturbing rise in the number of radical right-wing Hindus who preach nationalism and Hindu supremacy under the guise of patriotism and Indian values. Nationalism and radicalism are starkly present in the ongoing hijab ban as Karnataka has been a stronghold for the BJP and the state has experienced a rise in Hindutva groups targeting the state’s minorities religions like Islam and Christianity. When the girls protested the hijab ban, they were met with counter-protests by opposers and activists wearing saffron shawls, a colour to be associated with Hinduism. Bangalore based Journalist Samar Halarnkar told Al-Jazeera that “Hindu fundamentalist groups clearly sensed an opportunity over the hijab issue and used it to further radicalise society.”

Practising religion in schools is a controversial topic, which is why the Hijab ban has garnered so much attention, but putting young Muslim schoolgirls in a position where they have to choose between practising their religion and getting an education is inhumane and something no other religion in this country has to face. The hijab ban can be seen as a method to isolate a minority group and violate their constitutional rights but it can also be seen as the latest event in a string of events fueled by growing Hindu nationalism towards the Muslim minority in this country.  The looming nationalism and marginalisation of Muslims across India are becoming growingly clear, with the hijab ban in Karnataka being just another testament to it. 

Follow up: As of March 15 2022, the Karnataka High Court has given their verdict to uphold the Hijab Ban stating that “wearing of the Hijab is not essential religious practice of Islamic Faith”

Remembering Kalpana Chawla

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by Aryana Ahuja

Remembering Kalpana Chawla, India’s first female astronaut to go to space!

On February 1st 2003, the world shook with the news, that she had unfortunately passed away, 

This year we celebrate her 19th death anniversary. We’re so proud of all her accomplishments and what pride she brought to our country.

Born on 17th March 1962 to Banarasi Lal Chawla and Sanjyothi Chawla Kalpana had never been given a name, she was fondly called ‘Montu’ and soon after she chose a name for herself while beginning school. Kalpana means ‘creativity’ or ‘imagination’.

From a young age Kalpana was interested in flying and engineering, she was among several other astronauts when she first went to space. After completing her education she moved to the United States where she began working at NASA’s Research center.

In 1994 she became an astronaut applicant and was on her first flight 3 years later.

With her passion for science and engineering, Kalpana launched a ‘Summer Space Experience Program’ with her secondary school. She would invite two of the girls to dinner in her own house after meeting them in Houston.

In 2003 Kalpana was launched on a second mission.

Unfortunately on the descent back a hot gas got caught in the wing and cut off air pressure killing everyone inside. 

Kalpana has received many awards such as the Congressional Space Medal of Honour, The NASA Space Flight Medal and The NASA Distinguished Service Medal
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