Kalpana Chawla was the first woman of Indian origin to travel in space and she was selected by the NASA program in 1994 after she emigrated to the United States for her studies.
She was born on 17 March 1962, in Karnal, India. She moved to the US to obtain a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington.
During her first mission, she participated in the deployment of a satellite. She then took part in a second mission for the ISS in 2003.
She carried out numerous experiments, particularly in the field of microgravity. Unfortunately, upon returning from the mission, the shuttle was destroyed before landing, leaving no survivors.
She received a number of distinctions from NASA and the US government, including Congressional Space Medal of Honor. Several streets, universities, and institutions have also been named in her honour.
Feb 1 marks the death anniversary of Kalpana Chawla. She was one of the seven astronauts who died on board Space Shuttle Columbia after it disintegrated during its re-entry in the Earth's atmosphere.
The STS-107 mission was launched on Jan 16, 2003 and it conducted a range of international scientific experiments during its 15 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes, 32 seconds in orbit.
Following her demise, NASA dedicated a supercomputer to honour her memory. The SGI Altix 300 supercomputer was used to deliver high-resolution ocean analysis in the framework of ECCO.
She had a keen interest in poetry as well as dancing while in school. As a child, she was fascinated by aeroplanes and flying and would go to local flying clubs with her father.