Northrop Grumman has named its next space station resupply ship ‘S.S. Kalpana Chawla’ after Dr Kalpana Chawla, an astronaut of Indian descent.
“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 honor 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 honor 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.
The Cygnus spacecraft will deliver approximately 3,629 kg (8,000lb.) of cargo to the space station. It will be launched into orbit from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Wallops Island, Virginia on September 29.
Kalpana Chawla, the spacecraft’s namesake, was born and raised in Karnal and became the first woman of India descent to go to space as a crew of Space Shuttle Columbia on January 16, 2003.
Chawla and her six STS-107 crewmates died on February 1, 2003, over Texas as Columbia was re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.