A sweet young girl, bright and beautiful, born into a decent family in Haryana dreamt a dream that seemed impossible – a dream to meet and greet the stars. Kalpana Chawla, even as a young girl was fascinated by airplanes, stars and skies, and sketched the same while her classmates beautified the drawing sheets with colourful scenery of mountains and blue skies dotted with birds flapping their wings gracefully. During one of her science projects, she mesmerized the whole school by covering the floor of her classroom with a map and the ceiling with black sky dotted with twinkling stars.
Although her father refused to send her abroad for her studies, her determination and steely resolve, which ironically she had acquired from her father, made her persuade her family unto sending her to the US to complete her Aeronautical Engineering degree. She obtained her Masters in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas and completed her Ph.D on the same subject from the University of Colorado.
As a certified instructor who rated crafts and gliders, she also held a pilot license for single and multiple engine airplanes, hydroplanes and gliders. She also was a licensed Technician class Amateur Radio person certified by the Federal Communication commission. Owing to her multiple degrees, she got a job in NASA as the Vice President of Overset Inc. It was only in the year 1995, that her dreams solidified before her eyes as she was selected among the Astronaut Corps.
Three years later, her dream was fulfilled and she made the Indians proud by becoming the first Indian woman on space, when she stepped out of the Earth on a space shuttle towards the skies. She was accused of manhandling the Spartan Satellite which actually possessed some technical errors. She was vindicated later.
Kalpana was given a technical position afterward, and she was awarded for her brilliance. In 2000, her dreams came true a second time when she was assigned as part of the crew to be aboard Flight STS-107. She and along with her crew members, undertook microgravity experiment, and also a detailed research on technology development and astronaut health and safety. The space shuttle while nearing its landing on February 1, 2003, exploded in the atmosphere, taking away the lives of all the crew members including Kalpana.
In a small town she was born.
Number of honors in her name to adorn,
Planes and flights were all she did sketch,
She conquered and explored beyond the endless stretch.
She did dream beyond the horizon
Every second with grit she carried on.
Burning desire she showed to be an astronaut,
Any hurdle in her path, it deterred her not.
An Indian she is, so proud we are,
At first she set off in the Columbia
To carve her name and create history
And to see her land celebrate her victory.
It knocked again, the opportunity
To make her travel to eternity,
When her shuttle into fire, it did explode.
Sending the globe to a mute mode
She dreamed of, dwelt on and conquered,
Any hurdle in her path, to her goal she stayed adhered
She taught us to wage our own life’s wars,
And to dream beyond the earth and reach the stars!
Kalpana became the girl who dreamt of reaching the stars, who reached the stars and who became one among them; twinkling brightly as though smiling from above, being an inspiration to the young minds out there. To the young minds reading this very piece, don’t give up and as Kalpana says, “Dream beyond the earth and reach the stars”!

Previous articleChanakya Neeti-Shastra
From the Origin of time many rise and fall like winter weeds, My identity could not be revealed by anyone, My identity could only be revealed if you know me well. There isn't any great mystery about me. What I do is glamorous and has an awful lot of white-hot attention placed on it. But the actual work requires the same discipline and passion as any job you love doing, be it as a very good pipe fitter or a highly creative artist.