An Indian – American Woman in Space: Kalpana Chawla

May 5, 2023
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An Indian – American Woman in Space Summary

Kalpana Chawla is a naturalized U.S. citizen and the first Indian-American woman astronaut, who is a hero to many. Born in Karnal, Haryana, Kalpana studied aeronautical engineering and earned her Ph.D. in aerospace engineering in the United States. Despite opposition from her father, she earned a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and went on to work as a research scientist at NASA. She was eventually selected by NASA for training as an astronaut and became part of the crew of the Columbia space shuttle.

During her time in space, Kalpana conducted experiments on pollinating plants, testing for making stronger metals and faster computer chips, and observing food growth. She went around the Earth 252 times, traveling 10.45 million kilometers, during her 15-day mission. Tragically, Kalpana died during the Columbia disaster, which left the town of Karnal in shock.

Kalpana’s achievements inspired many young Indians and continue to serve as a reminder that the path from dreams to success does exist. She encouraged others to have the vision and courage to pursue their goals.

An Indian-American Woman in Space Question Answer

A. Answer the following questions.

1. Where was Kalpana Chawla born? Why is she called an Indian – American?

Answer: Kalpana Chawla was born in Karnal, Haryana, India. She is called an Indian-American because she became a naturalized U.S. citizen and went on to become the first Indian-American woman astronaut to participate in a successful space mission.

2. When and why did she go to the U.S.? Who did she marry?

Answer: Kalpana Chawla went to the United States to pursue a master’s degree after completing a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in India. She later earned her Ph.D. in aerospace engineering. She married flight instructor Jean-Pierre Harrison.

3. How did she become an astronaut? What gave her the idea that she could be an astronaut?

Answer: Kalpana Chawla became interested in the astronaut program while working as a research scientist at NASA. In 1994, she was selected by NASA for training as an astronaut, and she underwent rigorous training for over a year. Kalpana had a passion for flying and was also a certified flight instructor. After qualifying as a pilot, she began to consider applying to NASA’s space shuttle program. She applied and was accepted into the program, and her skills as a pilot and her passion for space exploration made her a good candidate for the position. She believed that anything was possible with hard work and dedication, and that attitude helped her to achieve her dream of becoming an astronaut.

4. What abilities must an astronaut have, according to the journalist?

Answer: According to the journalist, to become an astronaut, one must possess enormous abilities and encyclopedic knowledge on a wide range of topics, including biology, astrophysics, and aeronautical engineering. In the age of super-specialization, astronauts must be experts in multiple fields and have a comprehensive understanding of a variety of subjects to undertake space missions successfully.

Here are the abilities highlighted by the journalist:

  1. Extensive Knowledge: The journalist states that astronauts need to possess a vast amount of knowledge spanning various disciplines. They should have a deep understanding of subjects such as biology, astrophysics, and aeronautical engineering. In today’s era of specialized expertise, astronauts are expected to have encyclopedic knowledge across multiple domains.
  2. Multidisciplinary Expertise: Astronauts must be well-versed in multiple areas of study, allowing them to tackle the complex challenges encountered in space exploration. Their expertise goes beyond a single field, encompassing a wide range of scientific and technical disciplines.
  3. Adaptability: Given the unpredictable nature of space missions, astronauts need to be highly adaptable. They must be able to handle unexpected situations, problem-solve on the spot, and make quick decisions in high-pressure environments.
  4. Physical Fitness: Astronauts undergo rigorous physical training to prepare their bodies for the demanding conditions of space travel. They must maintain excellent physical fitness, endurance, and strength to withstand the physical challenges associated with living and working in space.
  5. Mental Resilience: The journalist implies that astronauts require strong mental resilience to cope with the psychological demands of space exploration. They must possess the ability to stay calm under pressure, handle isolation and confinement, and maintain focus and concentration during critical tasks.
  6. Teamwork and Collaboration: Astronauts often work in teams and collaborate closely with their fellow crew members. Effective teamwork, communication, and cooperation are essential qualities for astronauts to ensure the success and safety of space missions.

The journalist’s admiration for Kalpana Chawla and her awe-inspiring achievements highlight the extraordinary abilities that astronauts must possess. From their comprehensive knowledge base to their adaptability and mental resilience, astronauts must possess a unique combination of skills and qualities to excel in the challenging and awe-inspiring world of space exploration.

5. Describe Kalpana Chawla’s first mission in space

Answer: Kalpana Chawla’s first mission in space was on the Space Shuttle Columbia, which lasted for 15 days, 16 hours, and 34 minutes. During this time, she orbited the earth 252 times, travelling 10.45 million kilometers. The crew included a Japanese and a Ukrainian astronaut. They performed various experiments, such as pollinating plants to observe food growth in space, and tests for making stronger metals and faster computer chips. The total cost of the mission was around 56 million dollars.

6. What does Kalpana Chawla say about pursuing a dream? Do you agree with her that success is possible?


Kalpana Chawla, the accomplished astronaut, held a perspective on pursuing dreams that was both inspiring and empowering. When asked about being a woman in her field and facing challenges, she responded with a powerful belief in following one’s dreams. Kalpana stated that she never categorized herself based on her gender, background, or where she came from. She focused on her dreams, just like anyone else, and pursued them with determination and passion.

Kalpana highlighted that she never let societal expectations or limitations define her aspirations. Despite coming from a small city and a different country, she believed that her dreams were no different from anyone else’s. She emphasized the importance of surrounding oneself with supportive people who encourage and uplift, and she was fortunate to have such individuals in her life.

Her message resonates with the idea that pursuing a dream requires vision, courage, and unwavering determination. Kalpana’s personal journey serves as a testament to the belief that the path from dreams to success does exist. She encouraged others to have the vision to find that path and the courage to embark upon it.

Kalpana Chawla’s story is an inspiration to millions, especially young Indians who aspire to achieve greatness. Her message serves as a reminder that regardless of one’s background, location, or circumstances, dreams can be realized with determination, dedication, and perseverance. Her life and accomplishments continue to inspire individuals to pursue their own dreams and strive for excellence.

B. Read the newspaper report to find the following facts about the Columbia’s ill-fated voyage.

  1. Date and place of lift off: ————————————————————
  2. Number of astronauts on board: ———————————————––
  3. Number of days it stayed in space: ——————————————––
  4. Number of experiments done by scientists: —————————––
  5. Date of return journey: ———————————————–————–––
  6. Height at which it lost contact: ————————————————


  1. Date and place of lift off: 16 January 2003, from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
  2. Number of astronauts on board: Seven.
  3. Number of days it stayed in space: 16 days.
  4. Number of experiments done by scientists: 80 experiments.
  5. Date of return journey: Saturday, 1 February 2003.
  6. Height at which it lost contact: The shuttle lost contact at an altitude of over 200,000 feet.

Other questions

1. Kalpana Chawla Achievements


Kalpana Chawla achieved remarkable milestones throughout her inspiring career as an astronaut. Here are some of her notable achievements:

  1. First Indian-American Woman Astronaut: Kalpana Chawla made history as the first Indian-American woman astronaut to venture into space. Her achievements broke barriers and paved the way for future generations.
  2. Extensive Education and Expertise: With a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering, a master’s degree, and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, Kalpana Chawla possessed a strong educational background that laid the foundation for her remarkable career.
  3. Flight Experience: Alongside her astronaut career, Kalpana Chawla was a licensed pilot with expertise in flying single and multiengine land airplanes, single-engine seaplanes, and gliders. She also served as a certified flight instructor.
  4. NASA Selection: Kalpana Chawla’s talent and dedication led to her selection as an astronaut by NASA in 1994. Her selection was a testament to her exceptional skills and capabilities in the field of space exploration.
  5. Space Shuttle Mission: Kalpana Chawla’s first space mission took place aboard the space shuttle Columbia. The mission lasted 15 days, 16 hours, and 34 minutes, during which she orbited the Earth 252 times, covering a distance of approximately 10.45 million kilometers.
  6. Scientific Experiments: As part of her space missions, Kalpana Chawla conducted various scientific experiments. These experiments included studying plant pollination in space to observe food growth, testing for stronger metals, and faster computer chips. Her contributions to scientific research in space were invaluable.

Kalpana Chawla’s achievements and dedication continue to inspire individuals worldwide, leaving a lasting legacy in the field of space exploration. Her accomplishments serve as a testament to the heights that can be reached with passion, determination, and a relentless pursuit of dreams.

2. Kalpana Chawla: Date of Return Journey?


Kalpana Chawla’s return journey from her first space mission aboard the space shuttle Columbia was scheduled for February 1, 2003. However, tragically, the mission ended in disaster when the shuttle disintegrated during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere on that day. Kalpana Chawla, along with the rest of the crew, lost their lives in the Columbia space shuttle disaster. It was a devastating event that shook the world and brought immense sadness to the space exploration community. The date of the return journey, which was meant to mark the successful completion of the mission, instead became a somber reminder of the risks and challenges associated with space exploration.

Word meaning

  1. Frontiers: Borders or boundaries, typically referring to unexplored or unknown areas.
  2. Aeronautical: Relating to the study or design of aircraft and spacecraft.
  3. Opposition: Resistance or disagreement towards something or someone.
  4. Blast off: To launch or take off, especially referring to a spacecraft.
  5. Naturalised: To become a citizen of a country through legal processes.
  6. Aerospace: Relating to the branch of engineering that deals with aircraft and spacecraft.
  7. Gliders: Aircraft that are designed to fly without an engine, relying on air currents for propulsion.
  8. Challenge: A difficult task or situation that requires effort and determination.
  9. Encouraged: To provide support, motivation, or positive feedback to someone.
  10. Disaster: A sudden and severe event or accident that causes great damage or loss.
  11. Astronaut: A person trained to travel and work in space.
  12. Graduated: Completed a course of study and received a diploma or degree.
  13. Ph.D.: Abbreviation for Doctor of Philosophy, the highest academic degree in many fields of study.
  14. Launch pad: A platform or structure from which a spacecraft is launched.
  15. Mission: An important task or assignment, often involving a specific goal or purpose.
  16. Research: The systematic investigation of materials, sources, or subjects to gather information and gain knowledge.
  17. Super-specialisation: A high degree of specialization or expertise in a specific area or field.
  18. Awe-inspiring: Causing a feeling of wonder, admiration, or reverence.
  19. Inspiration: Something or someone that stimulates creativity, motivation, or enthusiasm.
  20. Vision: The ability to imagine or think about what could be possible in the future.

I am curious to set up my website as an education center for school and college students with the best questions, also, I have the best knowledge of Excel and Google Spreadsheets formulas.

Leave a Reply