Kalpana Chawla was an American astronaut and engineer who was the first woman of Indian origin to go to space. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator.
Her second flight was on STS-107, the final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003. Chawla was one of the seven crew members who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when the spacecraft disintegrated during its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Chawla was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and several streets, universities, and institutions have been named in her honor. She is regarded as a national hero in India.