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Astronaut Kalpana Chawla, STS-107 mission specialist, looks over a procedures checklist in the SPACEHAB Research Double Module aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Astronaut Kalpana Chawla, STS-107 mission specialist, looks over a procedures checklist in the SPACEHAB Research Double Module aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. | Photo credit: NASA

Kalpana Chawla: The First Indian American to Go to Space

May 16, 2023

Kalpana Chawla: The First Indian American to Go to Space

Ask Students: Who was Kalpana Chawla? What mission was Chawla assigned to? What were her roles in the mission? How has she impacted others?

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Explore the legacy of Kalpana Chawla, the first American of Indian descent to travel to space, who gave her life in the pursuit of research, science and exploration.

For a transcript of this story, click here.

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Discussion Questions

  • Who was Kalpana Chawla?
  • Where did Chawla study to pursue her dream of traveling to space?
  • What mission was Chawla assigned to? What were her roles in the mission?
  • When and how did Chawla die? What resulted because of the crew’s deaths?
  • Why is Chawla significant? How has she impacted others?

Focus Questions

Do you think Kalpana Chawla is someone important to learn about? Why do you think NewsHour chose Chawla for this series on overlooked individuals? Do you agree with that decision?

Media Literacy: Did this story allow you to grasp and understand Chawla’s legacy? Was there anything that could have been added?

Extension Activity

Discuss with a partner: Had you heard or learned about Kalpana Chawla before? If yes, what did you know about her prior to this story? If not, what could be done to give her legacy more attention?

Asian American and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander Heritage

Join the Share My Lesson community in celebrating the generations of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans who have enriched global society, playing a critical role in its development and success. With our wealth of prek-12 digital resources, you and your students can explore the remarkable contributions that AANHPI Americans have given to history, culture, the sciences, industry, government and more.

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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