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Northrop Grumman names NG-14 Cygnus spacecraft after Kalpana Chawla

Northrop Grumman names NG-14 Cygnus spacecraft after Kalpana Chawla
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Kalpana Chawla 

Highlights

Northrop Grumman named its next space station resupply ship after an astronaut of Indian descent, Dr Kalpana Chawla.

Northrop Grumman named its next space station resupply ship after an astronaut of Indian descent, Dr Kalpana Chawla. The "S.S. Kalpana Chawla," Northrop Grumman's next Cygnus spacecraft is set to launch to the International Space Station, is launched in honour of the Columbia astronaut, officials announced on September 8, Tuesday.

"Northrop Grumman is proud to name the NG-14 Cygnus spacecraft after former astronaut Kalpana Chawla. It is the company's tradition to name each Cygnus after an individual who has played a pivotal role in human spaceflight. Chawla was selected in honour of her prominent place in history as the first woman of Indian descent to go to space," Northrop Grumman said in a statement.

"Today we honour Kalpana Chawla, who made history at NASA as the first female astronaut of Indian descent. Her contributions to human spaceflight have had a lasting impact. Meet our next Cygnus vehicle, the S.S. Kalpana Chawla," the aerospace and defense technology company tweeted.

Northrop Grumman, NASA's resupply contractor also said, "Liftoff is targeted for September 29 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility."

The Cygnus spacecraft may deliver approximately 3,629 kg (8,000lb.) of cargo to the space station. The S.S. Kalpana Chawla will be launched into orbit from Virginia Space's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Wallops Island, Virginia.

Northrop Grumman will load critical cargo into S.S. Kalpana Chawla (Cygnus spacecraft), 24 hours before the scheduled launch.

"Every once in a while," Chawla said, "we'd ask my dad if we could get a ride in one of these planes. And, he did take us to the flying club and get us a ride in the Pushpak and a glider that the flying club had," the fallen astronaut often said in interviews.

She was born in Karnal and did her schooling at Tagore Baal Niketan School, in Karnal. She was as an enthusiastic hiker, back-packer and love reading. After her education, from Punjab Engineering College, she received an aeronautical engineering degree. Later she immigrated to the US.

Kalpana Chawla held a Certificated Flight Instructor's license with airplane and glider ratings, Commercial Pilot's licenses for single- and multi-engine land and seaplanes, and Gliders, and instrument rating for airplanes.

She joined NASA Ames Research Centre, in the year 1988, where she did CFD (computational fluid dynamics) research on vertical and short take-off and landing (V/STOL) concepts.

Chawla's first space mission began on November 19, 1997, and she was one among the six astronaut crew that flew the Space Shuttle Columbia flight STS-87. Chawla was the first Indian woman to fly in space. On January 16, 2003, Chawla returned to space aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on the STS-107 mission.

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