Father Speaks About Her Daughter

My daughter was very modest about her accomplishments. When attention was drawn to her being the first Indian woman Astronaut, she replied, “There are hundreds of scientists and engineers who work for years and months on some of the experiments and on the shuttle systems. We are lucky that we get to fly them. “And” God has given all of us two hands and two legs and a brain and I do the best that I can.”

She knew well that Indians, whether in India or America, had a special place in their hearts for her. She gave that place her respect, but never used it to further any agenda. When some blamed her for a botched experiment on her first flight, she didn’t cry racism, call Indian-American dailies or hold a press conference. She just went on doing her work.

My daughter simply revelled in multi ethnic environments. She lived her multiculturalism with grace and dignity. During the first mission STS 97, she had two white Americans, one black American, one Japanese and one Ukranian as crew members. All of them had to do 80 hours of Russian language course besides their usual rigorous training for the mission so that they could speak a little bit of Russian to be able to communicate during the training and the mission.

My dear friend, Kalpana through her life has proved that there aren’t any shortcuts to stars (literally and figuratively) without perseverance. She has demonstrated what youth can achieve, what women are capable of, what each and every one of us can attain with determination and dedication. Her example will inspire the young to believe in themselves and set up such high goals, irrespective of whether the child is a boy or a girl.

"Next generation must carry Kalpana Chawla’s torch, the torch for the quest of knowledge handed over to them"