Born in Karnal, India. Died on February 1, 2003 over the
southern United States when Space Shuttle Columbia and the
crew perished during entry, 16 minutes prior to scheduled
landing. She is survived by her husband. Kalpana Chawla
enjoyed flying, hiking, back-packing, and reading. She held
a Certificated Flight Instructor's license with airplane
and glider ratings, Commercial Pilot's licenses for single-
and multi-engine land and seaplanes, and Gliders, and instrument
rating for airplanes. She enjoyed flying aerobatics and
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,
awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the NASA
Space Flight Medal, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
In 1988, Kalpana Chawla started work at NASA Ames Research
Center in the area of powered-lift computational fluid dynamics.
Her research concentrated on simulation of complex air flows
encountered around aircraft such as the Harrier in "ground-effect."
Following completion of this project she supported research
in mapping of flow solvers to parallel computers, and testing
of these solvers by carrying out powered lift computations.
In 1993 Kalpana 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 Kalpana Chawla participated in are documented in technical
conference papers and journals.
Selected by NASA in December 1994, Kalpana Chawla reported
to the Johnson Space Center in March 1995 as an astronaut
candidate in the 15th Group of Astronauts. After completing
a year of training and evaluation, she was assigned as crew
representative to work technical issues for the Astronaut
Office EVA/Robotics and Computer Branches. Her assignments
included work on development of Robotic Situational Awareness
Displays and testing space shuttle control software in the
Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory. In November, 1996,
Kalpana Chawla was assigned as mission specialist and prime
robotic arm operator on STS-87. In January 1998, she was
assigned as crew representative for shuttle and station
flight crew equipment, and subsequently served as lead for
Astronaut Office’s Crew Systems and Habitability section.
She flew on STS-87 (1997) and STS-107 (2003), logging 30
days, 14 hours and 54 minutes in space.
SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE:
STS-87 Columbia (November 19 to December 5, 1997). STS-87
was the fourth U.S Microgravity Payload flight and focused
on experiments designed to study how the weightless environment
of space affects various physical processes, and on observations
of the Sun's outer atmospheric layers. Two members of the
crew performed an EVA (spacewalk) which featured the manual
capture of a Spartan satellite, in addition to testing EVA
tools and procedures for future Space Station assembly.
STS-87 made 252 orbits of the Earth, traveling 6.5 million
miles in in 376 hours and 34 minutes.
STS-107 Columbia (January 16 to February 1, 2003). The 16-day
flight was a dedicated science and research mission. Working
24 hours a day, in two alternating shifts, the crew successfully
conducted approximately 80 experiments. The STS-107 mission
ended abruptly on February 1, 2003 when Space Shuttle Columbia
and the crew perished during entry, 16 minutes prior to