April 20, 2022
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
“Kalpana” is a Hindi word that translates to “imagination,” and in 1997, Dr. Kalpana Chawla (1961-2003) became the first Indian-born woman in space. The astronaut’s passion for the skies emerged early in life, when she would bike after planes taking off from a local military school.
In her youth, she also visited the airplane flown by J.R.D. Tata, the founder of India’s first airline; she later brought Tata’s photograph on the first of her two NASA missions. Chawla was among seven astronauts who lost their lives aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia when the spacecraft broke apart upon reentering Earth’s atmosphere in 2003.
This quote comes from an email Chawla sent to students at her alma mater, Punjab Engineering College, as she completed her final orbits. The barrier-breaking astronaut knew firsthand that you can achieve anything you can visualize.