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My wife and I were watching the SpaceX rocket launch last week and it reminded me of a post I wrote about Kalpana Chawla. Kalpana inspires me because she is an example of making dreams come true by her thoughts. She accomplished much in her short life. Today, millions of people are inspired because Kalpana Chawla dared to dream.
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I’ve always been interested in space travel. I watch every launch I can. I remember watching the first astronauts launch in the 60s and continue to watch the SpaceX launches. My first recollection of seeing Kalpana Chawla was when she was a member of mission STS-107 and was about to board the space shuttle Columbia on January 16, 2003. Kalpana stood out to me as the seven Columbia crew members were shown walking to their vehicles. She appeared too young and small to be an astronaut. How she carried herself with such confidence was what stood out to me.
Kalpana Chawla was born July 1, 1961, in Karnal, India. She always enjoyed flying and held many pilot licenses. She could fly about any airplane. Her family was middle class and she graduated from high school in 1976. After graduating from high school, she found herself as the only female in the aeronautics batch at Punjab University. Her parents resisted her career choice but nothing could stop Kalpana.
Kalpana Chawla dared to dream and always had big dreams. Her dreams were to travel beyond the blue yonder, fly into the heavens, and touch the stars someday. She became the first female Indian-born NASA astronaut. Kalpana wanted to show the world that dreams do come true with hard work and patience. She said, “You can achieve what you dream with strength, endurance, willpower, and confidence. She was 1 of 2000 applicants for a civilian scientist’s position on Columbia’s voyage.
Kalpana’s Thoughts Became Her Reality
When she was living in the dorms while studying for her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees, she had pictures of space shuttles taped to her walls. She didn’t think at the time she was putting them up that one day she would fly on one. When I read about this it didn’t surprise me because what you look at every day becomes your thoughts in your subconscious. Your thoughts turn into your reality.
Kalpana is a great example that we can become anything we want to if we put our mind to it. She dreamed of flying to the stars, surrounded herself with pictures of the space shuttle, which became her thoughts. Her thoughts directed her actions and interactions became reality. She set goals to keep her on track and enjoyed the journey. Her thoughts on goals were, “When you are going for a goal, the journey is the best part.”
Heading Into Space
Kalpana’s first opportunity to travel beyond the blue yonder and fly into the heavens came when she was selected to be part of the crew on mission STS-87 in November 1997. She flew on the space shuttle Columbia as they completed 252 orbits of the earth in just over two weeks. In 2000, she was selected for her second voyage on Columbia as a mission specialist on STS-107. Because of many delays they didn’t launch until January 16, 2003. It was an ill-fated launch due to a piece of foam that broke off and damaged the heat tiles on the spacecraft wing.
On February 1, 2003, I was running on a treadmill at my gym and turned on the TV to watch Columbia land. They showed maps of the flight path Columbia would take to land at Kennedy Space Center. I began reading at the bottom of the screen that they had lost communication. The next images were from cameras in Texas and showed fiery streaks in the sky. I realized at that moment that Columbia had broken up in the crew had perished. It was a sad day for the world and particularly the country of India.
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Women’s Struggles In India
Kalpana Chawla had accomplished much while growing up in a male-dominated society and country. In the 1970s and 1980s, women in India were fighting battles against:
– Caste Crimes
– Unjust Laws
– Better Working Conditions
– and more.
My admiration for Kalpana Chawla comes from the fact that she would not let anything stop her from her dreams. She had a definite purpose and persevered to achieve her dreams. For millions of young Indians, she was inspirational. Kalpana Chawla dared to dream. She gave them hope that they could dream and work hard to achieve those dreams.