Astronaut Sunita Williams, of Indian Descent, is Scheduled to Return to Space

Captain Sunita Williams, an astronaut of Indian descent who enjoys eating samosas in orbit, is prepared to launch into space once more, this time on the Boeing Starliner, a brand-new spaceship. The planned launch window is May 7, 2024, from the Kennedy Space Center, at 8.34 and 8.04 in the morning Indian time. She claims she is a little anxious but not anxious about taking to the skies in a new spacecraft. Ms. Williams declared, “When I reach the International Space Station, it will be like going back home.”¬†while undergoing training at the launch pad.

The 59-year-old, who was born into a family of doctors Deepak and Bonnie Pandya, will make history by being the first female pilot of a newly developed human-rated spaceship on its first flight. She is a certified test pilot for the military who has made two space flights, in 2006 and 2012. NASA data indicates that “Sunita has spent a cumulative total of 322 days in space.”

She once held the record for the longest spacewalk by a female astronaut, having completed seven spacewalks totaling fifty hours and forty minutes. According to NASA, Sunita set a record for the longest cumulative spacewalk duration by a female astronaut during her seven spacewalks, which amounted to fifty hours and forty minutes. However, Peggy Whitson has since surpassed her with ten spacewalks.

The father of Sunita Williams was a neuroanatomist who was born in Jhulasan, Mehsana District, Gujarat. He eventually immigrated to the USA and wed the Slovenian Bonnie Pandya. According to NASA, she is currently getting ready to fly her third trip on the International Space Station and the Crew Flight Test mission, which will be the first crewed flight for Boeing’s Starliner spaceship. She was chosen in 1998 to be an astronaut, and in 2015, with the retirement of the Space Shuttle, she was included to the exclusive group of astronauts to serve on NASA’s commercial crew program.

Head of ISRO’s Human Space Flight Center in Bengaluru, Dr. M Mohan, told NDTV, “Captain Sunita Williams, a veteran of space missions to the International Space Station, is embarking on another mission on the maiden flight of the Boeing Starliner craft, which makes us all proud.” India has its own human spaceflight program, called Gaganyaan.  “I wish Ms. Williams all success on another milestone journey to space.”

Four male Gaganyatris have been chosen by India for the crew, and if everything goes according to plan, they could launch from Sriharikota into orbit in 2026.

SpaceX has been building new spacecraft to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station since 2020 after NASA chose the company along with Boeing. After numerous delays, the Boeing Starliner is scheduled to make its first crewed flight on Tuesday morning. By the way, Boeing has been embroiled in scandal and has been having a lot of problems with its aircraft.

She will be traveling with veteran navy test pilot Barry Eugene “Butch” Wilmore, 61, who has made two space flights. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the two veterans will lift out for the International Space Station. According to NASA, the astronauts will stay in the orbiting laboratory for around a week until the crew capsule lands in the southwest of the country using an airbag and a parachute.

Curiously, Ms. Williams chose the name “Calypso” for the spacecraft she would pilot, emulating the well-known vessel that renowned French oceanographer and filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau used to explore the waters when she was still a student. In the US town of Needham, there is a school named after her, Sunita Williams Elementary School. If all goes according to plan, she will also have the opportunity to engage with students from the space station.

Boeing claims that the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner spacecraft can carry seven passengers on low-Earth orbit flights, or a combination of crew and cargo. It has undergone numerous setbacks and has been in the works for almost ten years.

Sunita Williams, who is flying a mission to test and certify a new spacecraft, said her days will be filled with enjoyable activities, such as flying routines. She has her fingerprints all over the new spaceship, having worked with engineers from Boeing and NASA to construct it, and she is about to make history when she flies it on its inaugural journey. Having Lord Ganesh at her side, everything ought to go smoothly.

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