Kalpana Chawla was born in Karnal, Haryana, India in July 1 ,1961 to Banarasi Lal Chawla and Sanjyothi. . Chawla has two sisters, Sunita and Deepa, and a brother, Sanjay. Being the youngest the family members gave her the nickname "Montu." In 1983, she met and married Jean-Pierre Harrison, a flying instructor and aviation writer. She became a US citizen in 1990.
Chawla completed her earlier schooling at Tagore Public School, Karnal. She earned herBachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Punjab Engineering Collegein Chandigarh in 1982. She moved to the United States in 1982 and obtained a M.S. degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984. Chawla went on to earn a second M.S. degree in 1986 and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Later that year she began working for NASA as vice president of Overset Methods, Inc. where she did CFD research on Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing. Chawla held a Certificated Flight Instructor rating for airplanes, gliders and Commercial Pilot licenses for single and multi-engine airplanes, seaplanes and gliders. She held an FCC issued Technician Class Amateur Radio license.
Kalpana Chawla joined the NASA 'Astronaut Corps' in March 1995 and was selected for her first flight in 1998. She spoke the following words while traveling in the weightlessness of space, "You are just your intelligence". She had traveled 10.4 million km, as many as 252 times around the Earth.
Her first space mission began on November 19, 1997 as part of the six-astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. Chawla was the first Indian-born woman and the second Indian person to fly in space, following cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma who flew in 1984 in a spacecraft. On her first mission Chawla traveled over 10.4 million miles in 252 orbits of the earth, logging more than 372 hours in space. During STS-87, she... [continues]
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