KALPANA CHAWLA Biography - Pioneers, Explorers & inventors


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PERSONAL DATA: Born in Karnal, India. Kalpana Chawla enjoys flying, hiking, back-packing, 
and reading. She holds Certificated Flight Instructor's license with airplane             
and glider ratings, Commercial Pilot's licenses for single- and multi-engine             
land and seaplanes, and Gliders, and instrument rating for airplanes. She enjoys         
flying aerobatics and tail-wheel airplanes.                                               
EDUCATION: Graduated from Tagore School, Karnal, India, in 1976. Bachelor of             
science degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College,               
India, 1982. Master of science degree in aerospace engineering from University           
of Texas, 1984. Doctorate of philosophy in aerospace engineering from University         
of Colorado, 1988.                                                                       
EXPERIENCE: In 1988, Kalpana Chawla started work at NASA Ames Research Center in         
the area of powered-lift computational fluid dynamics. Her research concentrated         
on simulation of complex air flows encountered around aircraft such as the               
Harrier in "ground-effect." Following completion of this project she supported           
research in mapping of flow solvers to parallel computers, and testing of these           
solvers by carrying out powered lift computations. In 1993 Kalpana Chawla joined         
Overset Methods Inc., Los Altos, California, as Vice President and Research               
Scientist to form a team with other researchers specializing in simulation of             
moving multiple body problems. She was responsible for development and                   
implementation of efficient techniques to perform aerodynamic optimization.               
Results of various projects that Kalpana Chawla participated in are documented           
in technical conference papers and journals.                                             
NASA EXPERIENCE: Selected by NASA in December 1994, Kalpana Chawla reported to           
the Johnson Space Center in March 1995 as an astronaut candidate in the 15th             
Group of Astronauts. After completing a year of training and evaluation, she was         
assigned as crew representative to work technical issues for the Astronaut               
Office EVA/Robotics and Computer Branches. Her assignments included work on               
development of Robotic Situational Awareness Displays and testing space shuttle           
control software in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory.                         
In November, 1996, Kalpana Chawla was assigned as mission specialist and prime           
robotic arm operator on STS-87 (November 19 to December 5, 1997). STS-87 was the         
fourth U.S Microgravity Payload flight and focused on experiments designed to             
study how the weightless environment of space affects various physical processes,         
and on observations of the Sun's outer atmospheric layers. Two members of the             
crew performed an EVA (spacewalk) which featured the manual capture of a Spartan         
satellite, in addition to testing EVA tools and procedures for future Space               
Station assembly. In completing her first mission, Kalpana Chawla traveled 6.5           
million miles in 252 orbits of the Earth and logged 376 hours and 34 minutes in           
space. In January, 1998, Kalpana Chawla was assigned as crew representative for           
shuttle and station flight crew equipment. Subsequently, she was assigned as the         
lead for Astronaut Office’s Crew Systems and Habitability section. She is                 
currently assigned to the crew of STS-107 scheduled for launch in 2003.