Kalpana Chawla
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Kalpana Chawla

On a 16-day marathon mission in space.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2003 20:46 IST

On November 19,1997,Kalpana Chawla, created a history by becoming the first Indo-American woman to go into space. She was one of the six astronauts crew that flew the Columbia Flight STS-87.

She was assigned specialist and prime robotic arm operator on the flight, which remained in space from November 19 to December 5, 1997. Kalpana Chawla travelled 6.5 million miles in 252 orbits of the Earth and logged 376 hours and 34 minutes in space.

In January 1998, Kalpana Chawla was assigned as crew representative for shuttle and station flight crew equipment.

The STS-87 was the fourth U.S Micro-gravity Payload flight and focused on experiments designed to study how the weightless environment of space affects various physical processes. Two members of the crew performed an EVA (space walk) that featured the manual capture of a Spartan satellite, in addition to testing EVA tools and procedures for future Space Station assembly.

Born in Karnal in Haryana she was selected by NASA in December 1994 as an astronaut candidate in the 15th Group of Astronauts. After completing a year of training and evaluation, she was assigned as crew representative to work technical issues for the Astronaut Office EVA/Robotics and Computer Branches.

A graduate from Tagore School in Karnal, Kalpana obtained her Bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College. Later she moved to the US to do her Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from University of Texas, 1984 and Doctorate of philosophy in aerospace engineering from University of Colorado, 1988.

Kalpanawho enjoys flying, hiking, back-packing, and reading started working in the area of powered-lift computational fluid dynamics in 1988. Her research concentrated on simulation of complex airflows encountered around aircraft such as the Harrier in "ground-effect."

Following completion of this project she supported research in mapping of flow solvers to parallel computers, and testing of these solvers by carrying out powered lift computations.

Kalpana also holds Certificated Flight Instructor's license with airplane and glider ratings, Commercial Pilot's licenses for single- and multi-engine land and seaplanes, and Gliders. Her passion is flying aerobatics and tail-wheel airplanes.

First Published: Jan 17, 2003 14:34 IST