Remember the Space craft details described earlier? One such Space shuttle that flew covering a distance of 10,600,000 km for about for about 15 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes, 32 seconds was the STS-107. It was 113th and the final flight of the Space Shuttle program Columbia by NASA.
The crew was of seven astronauts who performed nearly 80 experiments in the space. Some amongst them were studying earth and space science, advanced technology development, and astronaut health and safety. Besides this, some experiments related to daily human life were also performed. Testing flowers was one. They discovered that flowers in space develop an aroma, quite distinct from their fragrance on Earth. Two flowers: a rose and an Asian rice flower for testing. But their fragrance never did reach the Earth.
On completing the experiments, they started their travel back. But while entering the earth’s atmosphere led an unfortunate and irreparable damage to the space craft and mankind both on February 1 2003. On investigation of failure, it was determined to have been caused by a piece of foam that broke off during launch and damaged the thermal protection system on the leading edge of the left wing.
Amongst the crew was our first Indian Woman to enter the space: Kalpana Chawla. She had an imagination and the dare to dream.
An Aeronautical Engineer who was born and brought up in India, moved to the United States in 1982 and obtained a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984. Post this she earned a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado in 1988.
She completed two space missions during her journey in NASA. In the initial mission of STS-87, Kalpana traveled over 16737177.6 kilometers in 252 orbits of the earth. She was for more than 15 Days and 12 Hours in the space. On January 16, 2003, she returned to space aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on the ill-fated STS-107 mission where she went on eternal rest while entering the earth.
She is the first Indian woman to enter space. She managed to overcome all the difficulties and fulfill her dream being an inspiration to everyone to chase their imagination and conquer! Several recognitions were given later in her remembrance.
We pay a humble tribute to Kalpana: the creative and powerful soul.