Washington: US aerospace and defense technology company Nothrep Grumman named a spacecraft in honor of the late astronaut Kalpana Chawla. Kalpana Chawla was the first woman of Indian descent to go to space. The name of the SS Kalpana Chawla spacecraft will be retained, it will carry cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
“Nothrep Grumman is proud to name the NG-14 Cygnus spacecraft after former astronaut Kalpana Chawla,” the company said. Cygnus Spacecraft’s SS Antaras rocket carrying Kalpana Chawla is expected to launch from Wallops Island, Va., On September 29.
Nothrep Grumman said the company’s tradition is to name each Cygnus after a person who played a significant role in a manned spaceship.
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Kalpana Chawla was born on July 1, 1961 in Karnal, Haryana. She first went to space in 1997 and became the second Indian member to fly into space after Rakesh Sharma.
He received a BSc in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College in 1982 and an MSc in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas-Allerington in 1984. He obtained a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado in 1988.
According to NASA, Chawla flew an STS-87 (1997) and STS-107 (2003) and entered space in 30 days, 14 hours and 54 minutes.
He died in the Columbia spacecraft disaster in 2003. The shuttle was demolished in Texas when it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere. The accident happened just 16 minutes before the planned landing.