Space Company Named Its Spacecraft After Late Indian-Origin Female Astronaut Kalpana Chawla

Aadhya Khatri - Sep 14, 2020


Space Company Named Its Spacecraft After Late Indian-Origin Female Astronaut Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla passed away on February 1, 2003, in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster along with six other members of the crew

A private company working in defense, aeronautics, and space has recently named its latest spacecraft after the first female astronaut with Indian origin to go to space - Kalpana Chawla.

As part of Northrop Grumman’s NG-14 mission, the company will launch the Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station with cargo onboard.

S.S. Kalpana Chawla will go on top of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket, a two-stage vehicle with an optional third stage for launches to low-Earth orbit with a payload of up to 8,000 kg.

S.S. Kalpana Chawla Northrop Grumman
S.S. Kalpana Chawla will go on top of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket

In a statement, Northrop Grumman said it was the company’s tradition to name a Cygnus after an individual who has an important role in space exploration.

It also added that the decision to choose Kalpana Chawla was her status as the first woman of Indian origin to enter space.

Chawla graduated from Punjab Engineering College and received her Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1982. She moved to the US for her Master’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas and later, a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado.

Kalpana Chawala
Chawla graduated from Punjab Engineering College

She started her career at NASA in the year 1988 and in 1997, she flew to space onboard the Space Shuttle Columbia as the primary robotic arm operator and a mission specialist.

Her second chance to go to space came in 2001 when she was short-listed to go onboard the STS-107.

Kalpana Chawla passed away on February 1, 2003, in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster along with six other members of the crew when the spacecraft with them inside disintegrated when entering our planet’s atmosphere.

Space Shuttle Columbia disaster crew
Kalpana Chawla passed away on February 1, 2003, in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster along with six other members of the crew

Northrop Grumman said while she had made the ultimate sacrifice, Kalpana Chawla’s legacy lives on and inspires generations of astronauts to follow her footsteps.

>>> IISc & ISRO Scientists Develop Space Bricks For Habitation On The Moon

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