Kalpana Chawla


Birthday March 17, 1962

Birth Sign Pisces

Birthplace Karnal, India

DEATH DATE Feb 1, 2003 (40)

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NASA's first Indian astronaut and the first Indian-born woman in space. She died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. She was a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator.

Before Fame

She earned her undergraduate degree in India and her M.S. and Ph.D. in aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. 


Days after her death, India's Prime Minister announced the renaming of a series of weather satellites to KAPLANA in her honor. 

Family Life

She grew up in Karnal, Haryana. In 1983, she married Jean-Pierre Harrison. 

Associated With

Laurel Clark was also aboard the ill-fated Columbia shuttle when it disintegrated.