Kalpana Chawla (Astronaut): Biography,Achievements,Career & More


First Woman Of Indian Origin In Space: Kalpana Chawla’s Biography, Facts, Wiki & More

In this article, you are going to know about the country’s pride Kalpana Chawla.Some interesting facts have been highlighted and her biodata is provided.


Real Name Kalpana Chawla
Nick Name Monto
Profession Astronaut

Physical Stats & More

Height in centimeters- 163 cm
in meters- 1.63 m
in Feet Inches- 5’ 4”
Eye Colour Dark Brown
Hair Colour Black


Personal Life

Date Of Birth 17 March 1962 (Real)
1 July 1961 (Official)
Date of Death 1 February 2003
Death Cause Space Shuttle Columbia disaster (Accident) which killed all 7 crew members
Birth Place Karnal, Haryana, India
Zodiac Sign Cancer
Age (as on 1 February 2003) 40 Years
Nationality American
Home Town Texas, U.S.
School Tagore Bal Niketan School, Karnal
College Dyal Singh College, Karnal, Haryana
Punjab Engineering College (PEC), Chandigarh, India
The University of Texas, Arlington, Texas, U.S.
The University of Colorado, Boulder, U.S.
Educational Qualification Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College
Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas
Second Masters and a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado
Family Father– Banarasi Lal Chawla
Mother– Sanjyothi Chawla
Brother– Sanjay
Sister– Sunita, Dipa, and 1 other
Religion Hinduism
Hobbies Reading Poetry, playing Badminton, dancing
Likes Scuba diving



NASA Missions STS-87, STS-107
Combined Time Spent in Space 31 days 14 hours and 54 minutes
Combined Distance Travelled 10.67 million km
Awards (Posthumous) • Congressional Space Medal of Honor
• NASA Space Flight Medal
• NASA Distinguished Service Medal


Boys, Affairs and More

Marital Status Married
Affairs/Boyfriends Jean-Pierre Harrison (flying instructor and an aviation author)
Husband Jean-Pierre Harrison (flying instructor and an aviation author)
Marriage Date Year- 1983
Children Son– N/A
Daughter– N/A

Some Lesser Known Facts About Kalpana Chawla

  • Born in Karnal, Haryana, Kalpana Chawla was the youngest of four siblings. She was born on 17 March 1962. But her official date of birth was changed to 1 July 1961 in order to ease admission procedures.
  • She holds an engineering degree in aeronautical engineering from Chandigarh’s Punjab Engineering College (PEC).
  • She graduated in 1984 and was one of the four female engineering students of the college. The girls’ hostel at PEC is named after Chawla.
  • She started learning karate during her time at PEC.
  • Her husband records that she made it a point to learn everything that caught her fancy – including scuba diving and Bharatnatyam.
  • Chawla earned a Private Pilot License and flew her private plane in the Rocky Mountains when she could.
  • She was inspired by JR Tata and was captivated when she saw one of the crafts he flew for mail flights. She was also a Certificated Flight Instructor for glider and airplanes.
  • She met her husband, Jean-Pierre Harrison, in 1982. They married on 2 December 1983. Harison – who runs a publishing house in California – has authored a book about her life, The Edge of Time: The Authoritative Biography of Kalpana Chawla, which was released in 2011. The book reveals many fascinating insights on her life.Kalpana Chawla Harisson book
  • Her first application to Nasa in 1993 was rejected. She applied again the following year and was selected for the 1995 batch.
  • In 2003, Harison visited the astronaut’s school and college in India where he refused to garland her statue. He had then revealed to Rediff that Kalpana did not like to be garlanded.
  • Chawla spoke to then-Prime Minister IK Gujral during the STS-87 mission aboard Columbia. The then-PM had told her about how proud India was of her feat. Gujral had also asked her to visit India along with the STS-87 mission. However, the visit never took place owing to the then-rocky relations between India and the US.Kalpana
  • Among the many things named after Kalpana Chawla are:
    • India’s first weather satellite, the Kalpana 1
    • A Nasa Supercomputer
    • A planetarium in Kurukshetra, near Karnal
    • A hill on Mars
    • An asteroid, the 51826 Kalpanachawla, which circles the Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.


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