Press Trust of IndiaSeptember 14, 2020 5:22:21 PM IST
An American commercial cargo spaceship for the International Space Station was named after the fallen NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-born woman to enter space, for her major contributions to human space travel.
Northrop Grumman, an American global aerospace and defense technology company, announced that its next Cygnus capsule will be called “SS Kalpana Chawla”
“Today we honor Kalpana Chawla, who made history at @NASA as the first female astronaut of Indian descent. Her contributions to human space travel have had a lasting impact,” the company tweeted on Wednesday.
“Northrop Grumman is proud to name the NG-14 Cygnus starship after former astronaut Kalpana Chawla. It is a company tradition to name each Cygnus after someone who played a central role in human space travel,” said the Company on its website.
“Chawla was selected as the first woman of Indian descent to go into space in honor of her preeminent place in history,” it said.
“While Chawla made the ultimate sacrifice in serving the space program, her legacy lives on through her fellow astronauts and those she inspired to follow in her footsteps,” it said.
“Your recent research on board Columbia has helped us understand the health and safety of astronauts while in space. Northrop Grumman is proud to celebrate the life of Kalpana Chawla and her dream of flying through the air and space,” it was said.
The SS Kalpana Chawla capsule is scheduled to launch Sept. 29 on the NG-14 mission aboard a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The spaceship will arrive at the space station two days later and be attached to it.
For the NG-14 mission, the Cygnus spacecraft will deliver approximately 3,629 kg of cargo to the space station.
Chawla was born on March 17, 1962 in Karnal, Haryana. In 1982 she received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the Punjab Engineering College in India.
Chawla then moved to the United States to continue her graduate education; In 1984 she received a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado in 1988.
She held commercial pilot licenses for single- and multi-engine aircraft, seaplanes and gliders and was a certified flight instructor.
Chawla began her career at NASA in 1988 as a fluid mechanics researcher at the Ames Research Center in California.
Her work focused on simulating complex air flows from aircraft flying in “ground effect”.
In 1993, Chawla joined Overset Methods Inc. as Vice President and Aerodynamics Researcher.
After Chawla became a naturalized US citizen in April 1991, he applied to the NASA Astronaut Corps. She was selected in December 1994 and reported as a Group 15 astronaut candidate at the Johnson Space Center in Houston in 1995.
In November 1996, Chawla was appointed mission specialist for STS-87 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, becoming the first woman of Indian descent to fly in space.
Chawla’s second spaceflight experience came in 2001 when she was selected to serve on the STS-107 crew. The flight was dedicated to science and research, with approximately 80 experiments completed.
Chawla was killed during the STS-107 mission when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentry into the earth’s atmosphere.