RIP: Kalpana Chawla, PH.D. (1962-2003)

Kalpana Chawla, 41, was an aerospace engineer and an FAA Certified Flight Instructor. She received a bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College, India, in 1982, a master of science in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas-Arlington in 1984, and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1988.

Chawla served as Flight Engineer and Mission Specialist 2 for STS-107. As a member of the Red Team, she shared responsibilities for maneuvering Columbia as part of several experiments in the shuttle’s payload bay. She also worked with various experiments related to combustion and crystal growth.

Selected by NASA in December 1994, Chawla was the prime robotic arm operator on STS-87 in 1997, the fourth U.S. Microgravity Payload flight. STS-87 focused on how the weightless environment of space affects various physical processes. Prior to STS-107, She had logged more than 376 hours in space.

Born in Karnal, India. Kalpana Chawla enjoyed flying, hiking, back-packing, and reading.

Return to Space Shuttle Columbia