An American commercial cargo spacecraft has been named after late astronaut Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian woman to enter space.
The Cygnus capsule will be named the ‘S.S Kalpana Chawla’, in memory of the mission specialist who died aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 2003.
“Today we honour Kalpana Chawla, who made history at @NASA as the first female astronaut of Indian descent. Her contributions to human spaceflight have had a lasting impact,” the company tweeted on Wednesday,” tweeted Northrup Grumman, an American global aerospace and defence technology.
The company’s website said it is their tradition to name each Cygnus after an individual who played pivotal roles in human spaceflight.
“Northrop Grumman is proud to name the NG-14 Cygnus spacecraft after former astronaut Kalpana Chawla,” it added.
The SS Kalpana Chawla capsule is scheduled to launch on the NG-14 mission atop a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on September 29.
Chawla who was born in Haryana, moved to the US to pursue her aerospace aspirations. She received her Master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas in 1984. She also did her Ph.D in aerospace engineering from University of Colorado in 1988.
Chawla was assigned as a mission specialist on STS-87 abord the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1996. She became the first Indian woman to fly in space.
She and her crew died during the space mission when the shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentering the Earth’s atmosphere.