Maine Township has decided to name a street in honor of the late Kalpana Chawla, a U.S. astronaut who was killed in 2003 when the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded. The road, which is near a park frequented by the area's South Asian community, is dubbed "Honorary Kalpana Chawla Way."
Maine Township officials say Chawla is someone who is a role model for children and as such is a fitting honorary near the adjacent Dee Park. An honorary street sign was unveiled on Aug. 7.
Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian-born woman to fly in space. She was born in Karnal, Haryana, in 1961 and after earning a doctoral from the University of Colorado she joined the NASA Ames Research Center in San Francisco. Her first space flight was in 1997; her last was in 2003 aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, which blew apart upon re-entry to earth, killing all the crew on board.
According to NASA, Chawla made 252 orbits of earth during her astronaut career. She was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the NASA Space Flight Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.