Since then, her fascination with airplanes and flying became eminent. As a child, she always went with her father to a local flying club to watch planes. While in school, her teacher said that Kalpana spent her free time making paper airplanes and flying them. Kalpana Chawla started working at NASA Ames Research Centre in 1988. In 1993 Kalpana became the Vice President and Research Scientist of Overset Methods Inc. in Los Altos, California. She formed a team with other researchers to simulate moving multiple body systems. She developed and implemented an efficient technique to perform aerodynamic optimization. Kalpana’s works are documented and being used in conferences and journals. Her dedication to her profession has made her recognized and earned her higher positions at NASA. In 1995, she was selected as an astronaut candidate in the 15th Group of Astronauts in the Johnson Space Centre. She completed a year of training assigned at the Astronaut Office EVA/Robotics and Computer Branches. In 1996, Kalpana began her work as a prime robotic arm operator and specialist on the STS-87. In 1998, she became a crew representative for shuttle station flight crew equipment, then became a lead officer in the Astronaut’s Office’s Crew Systems and Habitability section. She had recorded a total of 30 days, 14 hours, and 54 minutes in space during her job at STS-87 (1997) and the ill-fated STS-107 (2003).
The life and career of Kalpana Chawla served as an inspiration to women who dream of being in space someday. Kalpana’s legacy continues even after her death. According to Kalpana’s father, Banarasi Lal Chawla, his daughter’s only dream is for children, especially women, to not be deprived of education.
While she was earning well at NASA, she never cared for material things; instead, she would spend her money helping underprivileged kids by sending them to school. The following are some of the things that will serve as a shining remembrance that a woman astronaut from India carved her name in the history of NASA once upon a time. The government of Karnataka in India instituted the Kalpana Chawla award to recognize young women scientists. The International Space University’s Alumni founded the Kalpana Chawla ISU scholarship fund to support Indian women who wish to join the international space education program. The Indian Students Association (ISA) of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEL) launched the Kalpana Chawla Memorial Scholarship program for deserving graduate students in honor of Kalpana. The University of Chicago recently renamed its Alumni Award to The Kalpana Chawla Outstanding Recent Alumni Award. A planetarium in Jyotisar, Kurukshetra Haryana, was named after Kalpana Chawla.