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
Aryana is very creative and loves photography, she is a passionate chef and baker. She spends her time working with friends on making new recipes. Writing is something she doesn't usually share with other people, but is excited for this all the same. She would like to discover the idea of student interviewing and would like to experiment with insider views on topics from her committee


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