Saturday, June 23, 2007



Kalpana Chawla (Hindi: कल्‍पना चावला)(Punjabi:ਕਲਪਨਾ ਚਾਵਲਾ) (7 March 19621 February 2003), was an Indian-born American astronaut and space shuttle mission specialist. She was one of seven crewmembers lost aboard Space Shuttle Columbia during mission STS-107 when the shuttle disintegrated upon reentry into the Earth's atmosphere. Kalpana Chawla is a posthumous recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

[edit] Early life
Chawla, a Hindu,[1][2] was born in Karnal, Haryana, India. Kalpana is a Sanskrit name meaning "idea" or "imagination." Her interest in flight was inspired by J. R. D. Tata, a pioneering Indian pilot and industrialist. [3][4]

[edit] Education
Kalpana Chawla studied aeronautical engineering at Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh, India, in 1982 where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree. She was one of the three women in the school at the time. She moved to the United States in 1982 and obtained a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington (1984). Chawla earned a second Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering in 1986 and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Later that year she began working for NASA Ames Research Center.[3] Chawla held a Certificated Flight Instructor rating for airplanes, gliders and Commercial Pilot licenses for single and multiengine airplanes, seaplanes and gliders. She held an FCC issued Technician Class Amateur Radio license with the call sign KD5ESI. Kalpana Chawla married Jean-Pierre Harrison in 1983 and became a naturalized United States citizen in 1990.

[edit] NASA career

Chawla in the space shuttle simulator
Chawla joined the NASA astronaut corps in March 1995 and was selected for her first flight in 1996. Her first space mission began on November 19, 1997 as part of the six astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. Chawla was the first Indian-born woman and the second person of Indian origin to fly in space, following cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma who flew in 1984 in a Soviet spacecraft. It must be noted that while Rakesh Sharma represented India, Chawla was an American astronaut who represented the United States. Sharma and Chawla never met despite their common interests.
On her first mission Chawla travelled over 6.5 million miles in 252 orbits of the earth, logging more than 375 hours in space. During STS-87, she was responsible for deploying the Spartan Satellite which malfunctioned, necessitating a spacewalk by Winston Scott and Takao Doi to capture the satellite. A five-month NASA investigation identified errors in software interfaces and flight crew and ground control procedures. Chawla was fully exonerated and significant changes to procedures and software resulted from the final report.
After the completion of STS-87 post-flight activities, Chawla was assigned to technical positions in the astronaut office, her performance in which was recognized with a special award from her peers. In 2000 she was selected for her second flight as part of the crew of STS-107. This mission was repeatedly delayed due to scheduling conflicts and technical problems such as the July 2002 discovery of cracks in the shuttle engine flow liners. On January 16, 2003 Chawla finally returned to space aboard Columbia on the ill-fated STS-107 mission.
Chawla's responsibilities included the SPACEHAB/FREESTAR microgravity experiments, for which the crew conducted nearly 80 experiments studying earth and space science, advanced technology development, and astronaut health and safety.
Chawla's last visit to India was during the 1991 - 1992 new year holiday when she and her husband spent time with her family. For various reasons, Chawla was never able to follow up on invitations to visit India after she became an astronaut.

[edit] Personal characteristics
Chawla and her husband lived adjacent to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Chawla was a strict vegetarian. On her mission, she carried a white silk banner as part of a worldwide campaign to honor teachers, as well as nearly two dozen CDs, including ones by Abida Parveen, Yehudi Menuhin, Ravi Shankar, and Deep Purple. She went to her first rock concert, a Deep Purple show, in 2001 with her husband. "Kalpana is not necessarily a rock music aficionado," her husband said of a Deep Purple show, "...but (she) nevertheless characterized the show as a 'spiritual experience.'" She enjoyed birdwatching, backpacking, hiking, flying, and reading. Quoting philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca she always said, "I was not born for one corner; the whole world is my native land."

[edit] Memoria
Asteroid 51826 Kalpanachawla, one of seven citations named after the Columbia's crew[5]
On February 5, 2003, India's Prime Minister announced that the meteorological series of satellites, "METSAT", will be renamed as "KALPANA". The first satellite of the series, "METSAT-1", launched by India on September 12, 2002 will be now known as "KALPANA-1". "KALPANA-2" is expected to be launched by 2007.[6]
74th Street in the "Little India" section of Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City has been renamed 74th Street Kalpana Chawla Way in her honor.
The University of Texas at Arlington (where Chawla obtained a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1984) opened a dormitory named in her honor, Kalpana Chawla Hall, in 2004.[7]
Kalpana Chawla Award award was instituted by the government of Karnataka in 2004 for young women scientists[8]
The girls hostel at Punjab Engineering College, is named after Kalpana Chawla. In addition, an award of INR twenty five thousand, a medal, and a certificate is instituted for the best student in Aeronautical engineering department[9]
NASA has dedicated a super computer to Kalpana.[10]
Amar Chitra Katha (Immortal Illustrated Classics) has released a comic book biography of Kalpana Chawla's life.
One of Florida Institute of Technology's student apartment complexes, Columbia Village Suites, has halls named after each of the astronauts, including Chawla.
NASA Mars Exploration Rover mission has named seven peaks in a chain of hills, named the Columbia Hills, after each of the seven astronauts lost in the Columbia shuttle disaster, including Chawla hill after Kalpana Chawla.
Steve Morse from the band Deep Purple created a song called "Contact Lost" in memory of the Columbia tragedy along with her interest in the band. The song can be found on the album, "Bananas".[2]
Kalpana Chawla has inspired several young Indians aspiring to be astronauts. [11]
Her brother, Sanjay Chawla, remarked "To me, my sister is not dead. She is immortal. Isn't that what a star is? She is a permanent star in the sky. She will always be up there where she belongs."[12]

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Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
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Sunita Williams
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Sunita Williams

NASA Astronaut
September 19, 1965Euclid, Ohio
Test pilot
Commander, USN
Space time
194d 18h 02m
1998 NASA Group
STS-116, Expedition 14, Expedition 15, STS-117

1 previous or current.
Sunita Lyn "Suni" Williams (Hindi: सुनीता विलियम्स) (born September 19, 1965 in Euclid, Ohio) is a NASA astronaut. She was assigned to the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 14 and then joined Expedition 15. Williams is the second woman of Indian heritage to have been selected by NASA for a space mission after Kalpana Chawla and the second astronaut of Slovenian heritage after Ronald M. Sega. She holds three records for female space travelers: longest spaceflight (195 days), number of space walks (four), and total time spent on spacewalks (29 hours and 17 minutes).[1]

[edit] Personal
Williams considers Needham, Massachusetts to be her hometown. She is married to Michael J. Williams, she is Indian-Slovenian American and has a pet Jack Russell Terrier named Gorby. Her recreational interests include running, swimming, biking, triathlons, windsurfing, snowboarding and bow hunting. She is an avid Boston Red Sox fan. Her parents are Deepak Pandya and Bonnie Pandya, who reside in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Dr. Deepak Pandya is a famous neuroanatomist. Williams' roots on her father's side go back to Gujarat in India and she has been to India to visit her father's family. She is of Slovenian descent from her mother's side.[2]
Among the personal items Williams took with her to the International Space Station (ISS) are a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a small figurine of Ganesha and some samosas.[3]
After launching aboard Discovery, Williams arranged to donate her pony tail to Locks of Love. The haircut by fellow astronaut Joan Higginbotham occurred aboard the International Space Station and the ponytail was brought back to earth with the STS-116 crew.[4]
In early March 2007 she received a tube of wasabi in a Progress spacecraft resupply mission in response to her request for more spicy food. Opening the tube, which was packaged at one atmospheric pressure, the gel-like paste was forced out in the lower-pressure of the ISS. In the free-fall environment, the spicy geyser was difficult to contain.[5]

Williams running a marathon on the ISS.
On April 16, 2007, she ran the first marathon by an astronaut in orbit.[6] Williams finished the Boston Marathon in four hours and 24 minutes .[7][8] The other crew members reportedly cheered her on and gave her oranges during the race. Williams' sister, Dina Pandya, and fellow astronaut Karen L. Nyberg ran the marathon on Earth, and Williams received updates on their progress from Mission Control.

[edit] Organizations
Society of Experimental Test Pilots
Society of Flight Test Engineers

[edit] Awards and honors
Navy Commendation Medals (twice)
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal and various other service awards

[edit] NASA career

Astronaut Sunita L. Williams, Expedition 14 flight engineer, participates in the mission's third planned session of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction resumes on the International Space Station. Astronaut Robert Curbeam, (out of frame), STS-116 mission specialist, also participated in the 7-hour, 31-minute spacewalk.
Selected by NASA in June 1998, Williams began her training in August 1998. Her Astronaut Candidate training included orientation briefings and tours, numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training and ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training, as well as learning water and wilderness survival techniques. Following a period of training and evaluation, Williams worked in Moscow with the Russian Space Agency on the Russian contribution to the ISS, and with the first expedition crew sent to the ISS. Following the return of Expedition 1, Williams worked within the Robotics branch on the ISS Robotic Arm and the related Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator. She was a crewmember on the NEEMO 2 mission, living underwater in the Aquarius habitat for nine days in May 2002.
Williams was a mission specialist on STS-117. She was launched on the Space Shuttle mission STS-116, aboard the shuttle Discovery, on December 10, 2006 to join the Expedition 14 crew. In April 2007, the Russian members of the crew rotated, changing to Expedition 15. She returned to Earth on June 22, 2007 at the end of the STS-117 mission.
Williams performed her first extra-vehicular activity on the eighth day of the STS-116 mission.[9] On January 31, February 4, and February 9, 2007, she completed three spacewalks from the ISS with Michael Lopez-Alegria. During one of these walks a camera became untethered, probably due to failure of the attaching device, and floated off to space, before Williams could react.[10]
On the third spacewalk, Williams was in space for 6 hours 40 minutes to complete an unprecedented three space walks in nine days. She has logged 29 hours and 17 minutes in four space walks, eclipsing the record held by Kathryn C. Thornton for most spacewalk time by a woman.[1]
Following the decision on April 26, 2007 to bring Williams back to earth on the STS-117 mission aboard Atlantis, did not break the U.S. single spaceflight record that was recently broken by former crewmember Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria. However she did break the record for longest single spaceflight by a woman.[11][12] Space shuttle Atlantis touched down at the Edwards Air Force Base in California on Saturday bringing Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams back to earth after a record 195-day stay in space.
The spacecraft touched down at 0119 IST on 23Jun 2007.
Mission managers had to divert Atlantis to Edwards in the Mojave Desert as poor weather at the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral forced mission managers to skip three landing attempts there over the last 24 hours.

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June 09, 2007 16:36 IST
Space shuttle [Images] Atlantis blasted off into space on Saturday to bring back Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams after her six month stay at the International Space Station [Images], the longest for any woman. The mission was originally scheduled for mid-March but a hail storm damaged its fuel tank and the delay resulted in Williams staying three extra months in the space lab. With a seven-member crew onboard, the patched-up space shuttle lifted off into a clear blue Florida [Images] sky amid cheers at the Kennedy Space Centre and had a perfect ride to orbit. The Centre's seaside launch pad had not been used since the 2003 Columbia disaster that killed India-born Kalpana Chawla on her second space mission and six other astronauts. "The team really performed well," Rex Geveden, NASA [Images] associate administrator, said after a flawless launch and added that it is a really good day for NASA and for the US space program. Atlantis, which is undertaking NASA's first shuttle mission this year, will reach the ISS on Sunday afternoon (0100 hours IST Monday). Williams, 41, is also set to break astronaut Shannon Lucid's record for the longest stay in space ever by a woman -- 188 days and 4 hours -- on June 16, three days before Atlantis brings her back to Earth. A few pieces of foam fell off the shuttle during the launch but officials were not worried as they had to come expect that. Williams will be in rehab for at least 45 days, depending on her health condition, after which both her parents will join her in Houston, where she has been living since 1998 after being selected as astronaut by NASA.
Rick Sturckow is commanding the shuttle and on board are pilot Lee Archambault, Mission specialists Patrick Forester, James Reilly, Seven Swanson and John olives and flight engineer Clayton Anderson who will replace Williams. During the 11-day mission, Atlantis' crew will resume construction of the International Space Station. They will deliver a new power tower to the space lab, an addition that will provide electricity for long-awaited science laboratories built by the Europeans and Japanese. This is the 28th flight for Atlantis and the first of four flights planned for 2007. Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations, termed it as a great start to the launch year after the culmination of many months of hard work from the damaging hail storm that struck Kennedy Space Center late in February. "The external tank has performed in a magnificent manner," said Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale. "This bodes well for the future as we look forward to the completion of the space station," he said. In a countdown with almost zero technical issues, the only hurdle all week appeared to be the threat of late-afternoon thunderstorms lingering too long into the evening. No troublesome weather materialized. "Good luck and Godspeed," Leinbach told shuttle commander Sturckow after polling the team and receiving a unanimous 'go' for launch. Two minutes after launch, flying at 3,700 miles per hour, the shuttle dropped its used-up solid rocket boosters and then continued its ride to space for another seven-and-a-half minutes before jettisoning the empty external tank. An immediate look indicated no problems with the shuttle or launch debris, but the detailed video won't be available for a while. Atlantis is set to spend the next two days chasing the space station before a docking on Sunday. While at the space station, three spacewalks will be conducted to install a new segment of the space station truss complete with a gigantic pair of solar arrays. The segment and arrays mirror a set delivered on the last mission back in December. Sturckow and six men had to wait an extra three months for this launch. A hail storm in February dinged and gouged the external tank's foam insulation so badly that the shuttle had to be moved back off the launch pad for unprecedented repairs.

1 previous or current.
Rakesh Sharma (born January 13, 1949 in Patiala, Punjab, India) was the first Indian and 138th man to visit space.
Rakesh Sharma, then squadron leader and pilot with the Indian Air Force embarked on the mission in 1984 as part of a joint space program between the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Soviet Intercosmos space program and spent eight days in space aboard the Salyut 7 space station. Launched along with two other Soviet cosmonauts aboard Soyuz T-11 on the 2 April 1984, was 35-year-old Rakesh Sharma. During the flight, Squadron Leader Sharma conducted multi-spectral photography of northern India in anticipation of the construction of hydroelectric power stations in the Himalayas. In a famous conversation, he was asked by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi how India looked from the space and he replied, Saare Jahan Se Achcha, (The opening lines of a famous Indian patriotic Anthem by Sir Muhammad Iqbal meaning 'Best in the whole world').
He was conferred with the honour of Hero of Soviet Union upon his return from space. The Government of India conferred its highest gallantry award(during peace time), the Ashoka Chakra on him and the other two Russian members of his mission.
Squadron Leader Sharma and his backup, Wing Commander Ravish Malhotra, also prepared an elaborate series of zero-gravity Yoga exercises which the former had practised aboard the Salyut 7. Retired with the rank of Wing Commander, Rakesh Sharma joined Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as a test pilot. He was based at the Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) in Bangalore and worked on the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft program.
Rakesh Sharma has now retired from active employment.
In November 2006 he took part in India's top scientists gathering [1] organized by ISRO which gave the green signal to an Indian manned space mission.

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Ravish Malhotra (b. 25 December 1943 in Lahore, India (now in Islamic Republic of Pakistan) is a retired Air Commodore of the Indian Air Force and was trained as an Indian astronaut.
He was selected as backup of Rakesh Sharma for the Soyuz T-11 mission which launched the first Indian citizen into space. Malhotra was awarded the Kirti Chakra in 1984.
He became an Air Force test pilot, later stationed at the test center in Bangalore. He is presently the Vice President of the aerospace department of Dynamatic Technologies.

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