Dr. Kalpana Chawla, an Indian or Indian-American woman, became the first Indian woman to go into the space on November 19, 1997 on a 16-day mission on NASA’s Columbia space shuttle as a Mission Specialist, to study the outer atmosphere of sun.

She had a tragic death while returning from her Second Space mission aboard Columbia. The space shuttle exploded while entering earth’s atmosphere killing all the crew members in Feb., 2003.