Washington: American global aerospace and defence technology company Northrop Grumman announced that its next Cygnus capsule will be named the “S.S. Kalpana Chawla”, in memory of the mission specialist who died with her six crewmates aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 2003.
“Today we honour Kalpana Chawla, who made history at @NASA as the first female astronaut of Indian descent. Her contributions to human spaceflight have had a lasting impact,” the company tweeted on Wednesday.
Kalpana Chawla was born in Karnal, Haryana on March 17, 1962. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College in India in 1982.
She then moved to the United States to pursue her graduate education in 1984. She received a Master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas. PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado in 1988.
“Northrop Grumman is proud to name the NG-14 Cygnus spacecraft after former astronaut Kalpana Chawla. It is the company’s tradition to name each Cygnus after an individual who has played a pivotal role in human spaceflight,” the company said on its website.
“Kalpana Chawla was selected in honour of her prominent place in history as the first woman of Indian descent to go to space,” it said.
In November 1996 Chawla was assigned as a mission specialist on STS-87 aboard the Space Shuttle, Columbia.
She was selected for the crew of STS-107. This was her second experience which came in 2011. This flight was dedicated to science and research and completed 80 experiments.