“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

Kalpana Chawla was the first Indianwoman to go in space along with six other astronauts in NASA’s space shuttle in the year 2003. According to the major language spoken in India(Hindi) , Kalpana means imagination and as true as it can get – Kalpana soared way above her (and everyone’s) imagination to reach the stars and beyond through her sheer hard work and determination.

At a very young age, Kalpana thoroughly knew she was meant to be amidst the stars and planets. Following her passion, she became a professional certified pilot and a flight instructor in India. However ,when she set afoot in the USA in 1986, she took up aerospace engineering and soon after its completion joined  the NASA astronaut Corps and worked for six years until she landed herself the opportunity to take her first flight into the vast stretches of outer space.

Her journey to space began on November 19,1997 which marked a special date in the Indian history forever as the first Indian woman to ever go to space where she travelled a grave distance of 10.4 million miles and a recorded logging of about 372 hours. She worked as a space mission specialist and also with robotic arms.

A beautiful quote stated by Kalpana Chawla after her very first launch: “When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system.”

Her remarkable achievement entitled her to achieve many awards such as the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, Congressional Space Medal of Honor and NASA Space Flight Medal. Indubitably, Kalpana stands as a true inspiration for all young women in India and worldwide, for she always believed in following her ambition.

A tragic incident on the morning of February 1, 2003 shook us all when the NASA space shuttle Columbia disintegrated during its re-entry in the earth’s atmosphere over Louisiana along with the entire team of astronauts including Kalpana. But, she will always remain an ever-illuminating star.

Born in Karnal, a small city in Haryana, India, Kalpana dreamed big and her unwavering determination to chase her goal never stopped her. She started her education in aeronautical engineering in the Punjab Engineering College and apparently she was the only girl to have opted for the course. In a male dominated environment, her confidence and unbreakable grit never tangled with her perseverance towards her goal and the orthodox surrounding.

Kalpana  Chawla has inspired children and women to overcome reticence and strive to what they believe in , no matter what. She navigated across the gender barrier  fearlessly which displayed her dynamic and zealous personality. Her achievements encourage us, make us believe that there is nothing that can noose our dream.

She ushered a new era for women and ignited sparks in the hearts of little girls to follow suit. Kalpana stands immortal and has set herself as an exceptional exemplar. Brave, courageous and strong-willed are just a few humble terms to closely envelope how Kalpana truly is.