|Sunita Williams on her Second Space Journey
|As Sunita Williams, the astronaut of Indian origin who was aboard the International Space Station for six months in 2007, took off on her next space odyssey last Sunday, Desiclub gets you some inspirational info from the life of the extraordinary woman.
|by Gunjan Mehra
This time over on her mission to explore the unknown expanse of space, Sunita Williams is accompanied by two more companions including a flight engineer, Yuri Malenchenko from the Russian Federal Space Agency and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Their space craft, Soyuz TMA-05M, took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome space station located in Kazakhstan at 8:10AM, last Sunday.
These three crew members would soon join an expedition comprising of 32 crew members aboard the International Space Station when their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft docks to the orbiting complex on Tuesday.
Williams travelled for the first time to space in 2007 and, according to NASA, she holds three records for a female space traveller the first one for the longest spaceflight that lasted 195 days, second for the number of spacewalks (four) and the third one for total time spent on spacewalks (29 hours and 17 minutes). She thus became the second female astronaut of Indian origin sent to space through NASA, after Kalpana Chawla.
According to NASA, 42 year old Williams and her other two colleagues' stay on board has been planned in a way such that the trio are bound to be extremely busy all through their space expedition. Their schedule on the space station will be marked by two space walks, the arrival of Japanese, US commercial and Russian resupply vehicles, and an increasingly faster pace of scientific research.
But does that mean they would be allowed no time for recreation at all? Oh, of-course not! Two things that Sunita looks forward to doing while still in space are watching the Olympics and casting her vote for the impending Presidential elections in the US.
When asked about how she intended on keeping in touch with the London Olympics, Sunita said that she would not like to miss such an important sporting event and would definitely like to stay in touch. She even went ahead to draw parallels between Sports and space exploration.
"Well, of course. It's, I mean, the Olympics, what is it - it's an international competition, to foster friendship and, and competition across, across the planet, and I think that's exactly what the International Space Station is," is what she had to say.
Upon being quizzed about her intentions to cast her vote for the Presidential elections, Sunita said, "There's a program called Voting from Space. We're working through it right now. I'm actually a Florida voter so ... we had to have a little bit more work involved. - Texas has already, worked through the process - and I, I will actually be voting from space."
Sunita's father, Mr. Deepak Pandya who is a renowned neuroanatomist from Boston originally hails from the state of Gujarat in India. He accepted that he feels less anxious about Sunita's voyage this time around. According to the 80 year old neuroanatomist, "Sunita is used to life in a space station. This time she will be involved in experiments dealing with survival of long-duration flights for distant space travel."
He also disclosed that Sunita is so deeply connected with her heritage and traditions that even on her last space expedition; she had decided to carry a Bhagwad Gita and an idol of Lord Ganesha.
"She has always been a spiritual person. She has a background of Christian and Hindu religions. She respects all people and their religious beliefs," Pandya reportedly said.
It is interesting to note that while Sunita's mother is a Slovenian, she has an American husband who is employed with the police. She therefore truly represents a global citizen who has genuine respect for all cultures and religions of the world, and it seems, the universe.