US commercial spacecraft named after Kalpana Chawla, the Indian astronaut

10th September 2020

10th September 2020

As a tribute to fallen NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla and her immense contribution to human spaceflight, the next American commercial spacecraft carrying supplies to the International Space Station will be named after Kalpana Chawla, the first India-born woman to enter space.

Northrop Grumman, an American global aerospace and defense technology company has informed that their next Cygnus capsule will be named as “S.S. Kalpana Chawla”, in memory of the mission specialist who died with her six crewmates abroad the space shuttle Columbia in 2003

The company took to Twitter and wrote,

“Today we honor 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, while remembering her contributions, mentioned on their website that it is the company’s tradition to name each Cygnus spacecraft after the individual who has played a significant role in human spaceflight.

"Chawla was selected in honour of her prominent place in history as the first woman of Indian descent to go to space, ... While Chawla made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the space program, her legacy lives on through her fellow astronauts and those she has inspired to follow in her footsteps," the website said.

 Further, they wrote, “Northrop Grumman is proud to celebrate the life of Kalpana Chawla and her dream of flying through the air and in space,”

 The S.S. Kalpana Chawla capsule is scheduled for September 29 for launch. The Spacecraft will deliver approximately 3629 kg of cargo to the space station.

 Kalpana Chawla began her career at NASA in 1988 and later in 1993, she joined Overset Methods Inc. as vice president and a researcher in aerodynamics.

 In November 1996, she was assigned as a mission specialist on STS-887 abroad the Space Shuttle Columbia, becoming the first India-born woman to fly in space.

  Her second space flight experience was the STS-107 mission in 2001, the same mission in which she lost her life when the Space Shuttle Columbia got disintegrated while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

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