Kalpana Chawla was the first woman of Indian decent to go to outerspace. Born in India, Kalpana had a passion for flying from a young age. She would often go with her father to local flying clubs in India and drew airplanes for fun.
She was a dedicated student and after graduating in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College she move to the US to study at the University of Texas, Arlington and then on to University of Boulder, Colorado to earn a PhD in aerospace engineering. Naturally her next step was to work at NASA in the Ames Research Center.
Kalpana Chawla applied for U.S. naturalization papers in hopes that it help qualify her for the NASA Astronuats Corps. She was accepted into the program in 1995 and in 1996 was selected for her first flight to space, Space Shuttle Columbia STS-87. She was the first Indian woman to get to outerspace. That mission lasted 15 and a half days in space and traveled over 10 million miles.
She was then assigned to her second mission, Space Shuttle Columbia STS-107 which sadly was the mission that ended her life. The STS-107 mission had taken many samples and done many experiments during its time in space but unfortunately, due to a damage done to the aircraft believed to have happened at launch the Shuttle did not make it through after entering the Earth's atmospheric atmosphere. Ending the lives of all seven crew members. It was a tragic event and caused future launches and missions to be suspended for 2 years.
Although her life ended tragically, she spent it pursuing what she had loved since a little girl. Her love for life and learning was evident in everything she did. Kalpana once said, "Do something because you really want to do it. If you're doing it just for the goal and don't enjoy the path, then I think you're cheating yourself."
Kalpana's life is an example of chasing your dreams and finding joy in the journey. May we all be willing to put in the work to achieve what seems impossible and recognize the blessing and privilege it is to do so.
Moral of the Story:
The joy is in the journey.
Find joy in everyday things with a gratitude scavenger hunt.
Questions for discussion:
What do you think she meant by saying, "if you don't enjoy the path you're cheating yourself?"
Is the path to success always easy?
Just because it is hard does that mean we can't enjoy it?
What are somethings that we could be noticing in our life now that bring us joy?
The Kalpana t-shirt design:
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