From a young girl fascinated by airplanes in Haryana to becoming the first Indian woman to venture outside Earth, Kalpana Chawla continues to inspire even after her death.
She held on to what fascinated her, and after completing her bachelors in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, Kalpana went to the US in 1984. She pursued master degree from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a second master degree and PhD from the University of Colorado Boulder and joined NASA in 1988.
What she said after she first entered the space on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 is remarkable: "You are just your intelligence."
Unfortunately, Kalpana and her crew of six other members breathed their last on February 1, 2003 when the space shuttle disintegrated while re-entering the earth. Kalpana, who was 40 at the time of death, was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honour by the US government.
On her 17th death anniversary, India fondly remembers her daughter. Many Indian politicians, actors, journalists and others, took to Twitter to honour this trailblazer’s path-breaking journey.
Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), Rekha Sharma paid this tribute:
Journalist Rajat Sharma lauded her for making the country proud
Remembering astronaut #KalpanaChawla , who on this day in 2003, was part of 7-member crew that perished in the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster. The girl from Haryana's Karnal has made every Indian proud. pic.twitter.com/MOErQdsdAp— Rajat Sharma (@RajatSharmaLive) February 1, 2020
Veteran actor Madhuri Dixit Nene tweeted how ‘she still shines bright’
A woman who taught the little girls to dream. Remembering #KalpanaChawla, the first Indian woman in space on her death anniversary. She still shines bright as a source of inspiration ❤— Madhuri Dixit Nene (@MadhuriDixit) February 1, 2019
Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and Minister of Steel called her ‘the daughter who did India proud’.
Remembering the first Indian woman in space, Kalpana Chawla, on her death anniversary.— Dharmendra Pradhan (@dpradhanbjp) February 1, 2020
A daughter who did India proud, #KalpanaChawla’s achievements will continue to inspire the youth, especially girls around the globe for generations to come. pic.twitter.com/xSsYOrCVHh
Member of Parliament and Princess of Jaipur Royal Palace, Diya Kumari, tweeted her admiration:
MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi remembers Kalpana in the best way possible by quoting her words of wisdom and experience.
“The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it. Wishing you a great journey” - Kalpana Chawla— Kuldeep Bishnoi (@bishnoikuldeep) February 1, 2020
A humble to tribute to Haryana ki beti #KalpanaChawla on her commemmoration day 🙏 pic.twitter.com/oA1xtwQqRh
Union Minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal salutes Kalpana’s achievements.
The first Indian origin woman to be in the space #KalpanaChawla will be remembered forever. I salute her determination, her perseverance and above all her courage to defy odds. pic.twitter.com/orZHDmvQ3v— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) February 1, 2020
MLAs Yogesh Sagar and Asha Kumari also paid their respects:
Humble tributes to the first Indian-American astronaut Mrs. Kalpana Chawla on her 17th death anniversary. She was the first woman of Indian descent to go to space. Her achievements and honors will continue to inspire generations to come.#KalpanaChawla pic.twitter.com/z4AGDgl4Ep— Yogesh Sagar (@Yogeshsagar09) February 1, 2020
Valiant, driven and brilliant- #KalpanaChawla is much an icon in afterlife as she was when alive! Her journey as an astronaut showed that gender is merely a social construct when it comes to pursuing your dream! Tributes on her death anniversary!— Asha Kumari (@AshaKumariINC) February 1, 2020
Neeraj Kundan, the President of National Student’s Union of India, honoured the inspiration that Kalpana Chawla continues to be:
Member of Parliament Naveen Jindal called her the pride of Haryana: