NASA launches SS Kalpana Chawla Cargo Spacecraft
On October 2, 2020, NASA launched a commercial spacecraft named after Indian Origin deceased NASA Astronaut “Kalpana Chawla”. The spacecraft carried 4 tonnes of cargo including refined radishes for the International Space Station.
The spacecraft was built by a Virginia based company Northrop Grunman. It currently holds space station resupply contract with NASA. It is an aerospace and defence technology company. The company has named the space craft after Indian born astronaut Kalpana Chawla who died along with six other astronauts in 2003 Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy.
About the Spacecraft
The spacecraft carried a new space toilet called the Universal Waste Management System. The 23 million USD commode is to be tested for future use in the International Space Station. It is 65% smaller and 40% lighter than the current toilet at the International Space Station. It also carried a radish-growing experiment to learn about survival and feasibility of growing plants in space.
The space craft has also carried cancer treatment technique requisites to test cancer drugs in micro gravity conditions.
Chawla was the first India-born woman to enter space. She also flew in 1997 as a primary robotic arm operator and also as a mission specialist. The Columbia spacecraft disintegrated during its return to earth that led to the death of the crew. The hot plasma entered the wing of the aircraft resulting in loss of control.
Chawla is regarded as the National Hero of India.
She was born in Haryana and moved to the US in 1982 to obtain a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering.
The Government of Karnataka instituted Kalpana Chawla Award in 2004 to recognise young women scientists. An Eoan asteroid in the outer Asteroid belt of solar system has been named after Chawla.
The meteorological series of satellites of India was renamed as “Kalpana” in 2003 by the then PM Vajpayee.