Kalpna Chawla was born on 17 March 1962 and raised in Karnal, Haryana. Kalpana was the youngest of her four siblings. She completed her initial studies from Tagore Bal Niketan. Kalpana’s father wanted to make her a doctor or teacher.
Kalpana wanted to go to space since childhood. Hence, she joined an aeronautical engineering degree from Chandigarh Engineering College in 1982 and an aerospace engineering degree from the University of Texas from 1984.
In 1988, she began working for NASA’s AIIMS Research Center as vice president of Oversett Methods Inc. She was inducted into NASA’s Astronaut Corps and in 1998 she was selected for her first flight. She started her first space flight with the STS 87 Columbia Shuttle.
During her first trip to space, she spent more than 360 hours in space and completed 252 orbits of the Earth.
In 2003, Kalpana boarded a second flight to space with the Columbia Shuttle. This was her second and last flight.
The astronauts conducted 80 trials in this mission. But on 1 February 2003, the Columbia space shuttle crashed just before landing. All the other 6 astronauts died along with Kalpana.