Columbia crew
STS-107 Crew (l-r): Mission Specialist 1 David M. Brown, Commander Rick D. Husband, Mission Specialist 4 Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Mission Specialist 2 Kalpana Chawla, Payload Commander Michael P. Anderson, Pilot William C. McCool, Payload Specialist 1 Ilan Ramon NASA

March 17, 2018, marks the 56th birth anniversary of Kalpana Chawla, the daughter of India who said adios to the physical world unexpectedly in February 2003 following the Shuttle Columbia disaster. The astronaut who worked with NASA is now widely considered a role model for all the young woman in the country. Even after fifteen years of her death, her name still lives in the minds of a billion people and this indicates how much the entire country has loved her. On this special day, IB Times Singapore is presenting you four interesting facts about Kalpana Chawla.

Obsession towards flying

Kalpana Chawla was obsessed towards flying from a very young age. During her school days, it was her hobby to draw pictures of planes and spacecraft in her notebooks during free times. She was also very much interested in astronomy and space science. After completing her engineering from Punjab engineering college, Kalpana moved to Texas in 1982 to complete her post graduation in aerospace engineering. During those times, she dreamt of once working with NASA, and in the course of time, she became one of the selected crew members of the world's leading space agency.

An ardent fan of Deep Purple

Kalpana Chawla was an ardent fan of 'Deep Purple' music band. During her time in space too, she was in touch with the band. According to close sources to Kalpana, it has been learned that she owned all the albums of this rock band.

Unexpected demise

Everything was fine with the Columbia mission until February 01, 2003. Kalpana Chawla along with six crew members was in the space for sixteen days, and they conducted more than 80 experiments. However, fate showed its cruel face when the Columbia disintegrated over Texas during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Kalpana's body was totally burned, and later it was cremated at National Park in Utah as per her wishes.

The legacy continues

Kalpana's achievements and an unexpected demise created a huge impact on people in India, especially among women. As an honor to the legendary astronaut, Punjab University named the girl's hostel after her. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then prime minister of India renamed the MET satellites to Kalpana as an honor. The Indian Institute of Kharagpur has a Kalpana Chawla space technological center.