Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage to Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla at the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.
Kalpana Chawla was the first woman of Indian origin in space and had died when the Columbia space shuttle disintegrated over Texas during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, killing all onboard just 16 minutes before landing.
Honoring her, Prime Minister Modi today laid a wreath at the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers. This monument is dedicated to American service members who have died without their remains being identified. PM Modi also met Kalpana’s husband and family members, senior officials from NASA, Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams and her father at the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial.
Sunita Williams said, “Kalpana was a great friend, a mentor and someone you can always sit down and have a cup of tea with. Great person.” Currently, Sunita is busy building a new space craft, fulfilling Kalpana’s dream.
also invited both Sunita and her father to visit India. Sunita, in return, felt honored to have that invitation.
Kalpana’s husband Jean-Pierre Harrison gifted a set of books on the late astronaut, including a biography written by him, to the Prime Minister.