Singer and songwriter Tal Ramon joined a few hundred others at Kennedy Space Center to remember the Columbia crew who were killed aboard shuttle Columbia 15 years ago.
Six NASA astronauts (Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, and Laurel Clark) and an Israeli Air Force pilot flying as a payload specialist (Ilan Ramon) died during their return from a 16-day science mission aboard space shuttle Columbia.
Ramon performed two of his own songs, singing in Hebrew and playing the keyboard. Later, he and relatives of other astronauts killed in action, placed long-stemmed, yellow, orange and pink roses at the Space Mirror Memorial. In all, 24 names are engraved in the large granite monument.
“I’m just so emotional to be here with you,” Ramon told the crowd before performing at the first Kennedy memorial he’s attended.
It was also difficult for forest ranger Gregory Cohrs, who was among the first on the accident scene in Hemphill, Texas. Cohrs worked for three months scouring the area for shuttle debris and the astronauts’ remains. He now serves at Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana.
“It was really important for us to bring the crew home to their families. So we’re really thankful to have been able to do that,” he told The Associated Press.
NASA’s held its annual day of remembrance Thursday to honor all its astronauts killed in the line of duty. Seventeen died in three accidents: Columbia, the Apollo 1 fire on the launch pad on Jan. 27, 1967, and the shuttle Challenger launch disaster on Jan. 28, 1986. The seven others died in plane crashes during training or other official business.
Remembering Kalpana Chawla: first Indian woman in space
Photograph: Getty Images
It’s been 14 years since her passing, but Indo-American astronaut, Kalpana Chawla continues to be an inspirational force for youth all-over, especially girls. Born in Karnal-Punjab, Kalpana overcame all odds and fulfilled her dream of reaching for the stars. On her death anniversary today, we share a few details about Chawla’s incredible journey.
Early life: Kalpana was born on March 17, 1962, in Karnal, Haryana. Born into a middle-class family, she completed her schooling from Tagore Baal Niketan Senior Secondary School, Karnal and her B.Tech in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College at Chandigarh, India in 1982.
Life in the US: To fulfil her desire of becoming an astronaut, Kalpana aimed to join NASA and moved to the United States in 1982. She obtained a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984 and a second Master’s in 1986. She then earned a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Wedding bells: There’s always time for romance. In 1983, Kalpana tied the knot with Jean-Pierre Harrison, a flying instructor and an aviation author.
Work at NASA: In 1988, Kalpana’s dream of joining NASA finally came true. She was offered the position of Vice President of Overset Methods, Inc at NASA Research Center and was later assigned to do Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research on Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing concepts.
Taking flight: Kalpana was certified with a commercial pilot license for seaplanes, multi-engine aircraft and glider. She was also a certified flight Instructor for glider and airplanes.
US Citizenship and continuation at NASA: On acquiring US citizenship in 1991, Kalpana Chawla applied for the NASA Astronaut Corps. She joined the Corps in March 1995 and was selected for her first flight in 1996.
First mission: Kalpana’s first space mission began on November 19, 1997. She was part of the six-astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. Not only was Chawla the first Indian-born woman to fly in space, but also the second Indian do so. During her first mission, Kalpana travelled over 10.4 million miles in 252 orbits of the earth, logging more than 372 hours in space.
Second mission: In 2000, Kalpana was selected for her second flight as part of the crew of STS-107. However, the mission was repeatedly delayed due to scheduling conflicts and technical problems, such as the July 2002 discovery of cracks in the shuttle engine flow liners. On January 16, 2003, Chawla finally returned to space aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on the ill-fated STS-107 mission. Her responsibilities included the microgravity experiments, for which the crew conducted nearly 80 experiments studying earth and space science, advanced technology development, and astronaut health and safety.
Death: On February 1, 2003, Kalpana died in space along with seven crew members in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. The tragedy occurred when the Space Shuttle disintegrated over Texas during its re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.
Awards and honours: During the course of her career, Kalpana received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Space Flight Medal and NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Following her death, the Prime Minister of India announced that the meteorological series of satellites, MetSat, was to be renamed ‘Kalpana’ in 2003. The first satellite of the series, ‘MetSat-1’, launched by India on September 12, 2002 was renamed ‘Kalpana-1’. Meanwhile, The Kalpana Chawla Award was instituted by the Government of Karnataka in 2004 to recognise young women scientists. NASA on the other hand has dedicated a supercomputer to the memory of Kalpana Chawla.
Source : indiatimes, femina