Northrop Grumman has named its next space station resupply ship ‘S.S. Kalpana Chawla’ as a tribute to the late 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.
The S.S. Kalpana Chawla is being prepared for a launch on September 29.
“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 aim of the Cygnus spacecraft is to deliver 3,296 kilos of cargo to the Space Centre tucked up in the orbit. The cargo will be loaded on S.S. Kalpana Chawla (Cygnus spacecraft), 24 hours before the scheduled launch.
Post delivering the cargo, the S.S. Kalpana Chawla will conduct something called Spacecraft Fire Experiment – V (Saffire-V). This flight will study the behaviour of large-scale fires in microgravity. We really don’t know what that means.
Anyway, the spacecraft will return once the tasks are completed.
Kalpana Chawla, for the unware, was the first Indian origin NASA astronaut to go to space. She was a part 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.