Inspiration for Women’s empowerment
Kalpana Chawla was an Indian-born, American Astronaut who has become a symbol for Women’s Empowerment across India, the United States of America and across the whole world.
When Kalpana Chawla transcended all the barriers she encountered and reached her life goals, she became a trailblazer for millions of girls and women in India and all over the world. Kalpana Chawla not only broke through all these barriers, she literally and metaphorically reached the skies, as an Astronaut of international repute.
She was born in the state of Punjab, in India in 1962. From an early age Kalpana was interested in everything connected with Aeroplanes and Space. It was clear to her that this was her chosen field of work and her mission in life. Consequently, she followed her academics in the same direction. With hard work and focus she completed her Aeronautical Engineering education from India. Then she went to the United State of America for her further education. She did her Masters of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Texas. But this did not satisfy her spirit. She desired for more qualifications and training her field. She also pursued another Master’s degree and also a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado.
After becoming a US naturalized citizen, she joined NASA as an Astronaut. She was chosen for two Space Missions. Her first Space Mission was in 1987, where she was a part of a six-member crew, that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia, STS 87. She had to her credit approximately fifteen days of flight in Space during this Mission. In 2003, Kalpana Chawla was again chosen as a part of a seven-member crew to fly the Space Shuttle Columbia, STS 107. After the completion of their mission, when the Space Shuttle entered the Earth’s atmosphere due to some technical problems, it had an accident and it exploded, leading to the death of all of its crew members including Kalpana Chawla.
She was posthumously awarded the Space Medal of Honour. Various Streets, Universities and Buildings have been named in her honour in India and in the US. Kalpana Chawla is an inspiration to all women across the world.