To honor her contributions at NASA as an astronaut, Northrop Grumman has named its next spacecraft bound to the International space station after Dr. Kalpana Chawla, the late astronaut of Indian descent.
The spacecraft was named “S.S. Kalpana Chawla,” to commemorate the life of the mission specialist who died with her six crewmates aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 2003—announced on Wednesday, September 9, by Northrop Grumman.
According to a report produced by ANI, the company revealed that Northrop Grumman is proud to name the NG-14 Cygnus spacecraft after former astronaut Kalpana Chawla.
“It is the company’s tradition to name each Cygnus after an individual who has played a pivotal role in human spaceflight. Chawla was selected in honor of her prominent place in history as the first woman of Indian descent to go to space,” Northrop Grumman stated.
India’s first female astronaut
India’s first female astronaut, Kalpana Chawla, was born on July 1, 1961. She was the youngest of four children. The name Kalpana means “idea” or “imagination.” Her full name is pronounced as CULL-puh-na CHAV-la, though she often went by the nickname K.C.
Kalpana Chawla became the first female astronaut of Indian origin who got an opportunity to fly into space. As a child, she always knew that she wanted to become an astronaut. Her inspiration was her father, who used to take her to plane rides. She was then inspired by watching the flying planes and decided to pursue her career in aerospace engineering.