NASA launches SS Kalpana Chawla Cargo Spacecraft

Highlights:

  • NASA launched a commercial spacecraft named after Indian Origin deceased NASA Astronaut “Kalpana Chawla”,on October 2, 2020. 
  • 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.
Features of 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.
Kalpana Chawla: A Fact file
  • 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.