The students of astronaut Kalpana Chawla's alma mater -- Tagore Bal Niketan Senior Secondary School in Karnal -- offered special prayers for the safe return of the US space shuttle Discovery to earth.
The school's principal, Dr Rajan Kumar Lamba, said the students and teachers were closely following media reports on Discovery's journey.
Every year, the US space agency NASA invites two students from the school for a familiarisation trip in memory of Kalpana Chawla, who initiated the programme.
"We lost our dear student Kalpana in the Columbia crash. We know nothing can fill her loss. She has given so much to this school," Lamba said.
Coincidentally, two class XI students -- Rahul Gupta and Ankita Suri who went to NASA this year -- are also returning to India today.
Kalpana Chawla, along with six other astronauts perished when the Columbia space shuttle disintegrated in mid-air during its return to earth on February 1, 2003.
The Indian-born astronaut's father B D Chawla said he too was praying for the safe return of Discovery. "I have been watching television for the past few days and praying for the safe return of the shuttle," he said over the phone from Karnal.