She was one of the 6 astronaut crew that flew the Columbia Flight STS-87 on November 19, 1997. She is the first Indian or Indian-American to fly in the US space shuttle.
Born in Karnal, India. Dr. Chawla enjoys flying, hiking, backpacking, and reading. She holds Certificated Flight Instructor’s license and Commercial Pilots licenses for single- and multi-engine land airplanes and single-engine seaplanes, instrument rating, and Private Glider. She enjoys flying aerobatics and tail-wheel airplanes.
Graduated from Tagore School, Karnal, India, in 1976. Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College, India, 1982. Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from University of Texas, 1984. Doctorate of philosophy in aerospace engineering from University of Colorado, 1988.
Dr. Chawla was hired by MCAT Institute, San Jose, California, as a Research Scientist to support research in the area of powered fin at NASA Ames Research Center, California, in 1988. She was responsible for simulation and analysis of flow physics pertaining to the operation of powered lift aircraft such as the Harrier in ground effect. She modeled and numerically simulated configurations that include important components of realistic powered lift aircraft both in hover and landing mode, using Navier-Stokes solvers on Cray YMP. Following completion of this project she supported research in mapping of flow solvers to parallel computers such as the Intel iPSC-860, the Intel Paragon, and the TMC CM-2, and testing of these solvers by carrying out powered lift computations. In 1993 Dr. Chawla joined Overset Methods Inc., Los Altos, California, as Vice President and Research Scientist to form a team with other researchers specializing in simulation of moving multiple body problems. She was responsible for development and implementation of efficient techniques to perform aerodynamic optimization. Results of various projects that Dr. Chawla participated in are documented in technical conference papers and Journals.
Selected by NASA in December 1994, Dr. Chawla reported to the Johnson Space Center in March 1995. After completing a year of training and evaluation, she was assigned to work technical issues for the Astronaut Office EVA/Robotics and Computer Branches. Dr. Chawla will serve as a mission specialist on the crew of the fourth U-S, Microgravity Payload flight scheduled for an November 1997 launch on board Columbia on mission STS-87.
KALPANA CHAWLA: LOST IN SPACE:
On January 16th, 2003, when space shuttle Columbia blasted off with American astronaut Kalpana Chawla and 7 members in the crew, little did anyone know that this very mission would have a tragic end.
On 1st February, The US space shuttle broke up over Texas a few minute before it was due to land at the Kennedy space center in Florida on Saturday. All crew members are feared dead.
The nation and world mourns the death of the Columbia crew, even as India suffers the loss of first India born American astronaut Kalpana Chawla.