Karnal: Kalpana Chawla, the famous Indian American astronaut was born in Karnal, Haryana in India on 1 July, 1961. She was a mission specialist on the space shuttle Columbia
Kalpana Chawla was born to a Hindu family here, to Banarasi Lal Chawla and Sanjyothi. Being the youngest member of the family, she had two sisters, Sunita and Deepa, and a brother, Sanjay.
She went to Tagore Public School, Karnal and completed Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College at Chandigarh in 1982. She moved to United States of America in 1982 and obtained a MS degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984.
Chawla went to earn a second MS Degree in 1986 and a PhD in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She became a US citizen in 1990. She began to work for NASA Ames Research Centre as vice president of overset methods, where she did CFD research on Vertical/Short takeoff and landing concepts, Chawla held a Certified Flight Instructor rating for airplanes, gliders and Commercial Pilot licenses for single and multi-engine airplanes, seaplanes and gliders. Kalpana Chawla first flew on the Columbia spacecraft in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robot arm operator.
Chawla died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster which occurred on 1 February, 2003, when the Space Shuttle disintegrated over Texas during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, with the loss of all the seven members, shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, ST-107.
Today we remember Kalpana Chawla as an inspiration to many of us and a perfect example to mark the excellence of women in India.