New Delhi: Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams, who is visiting India after returning to India after spending 127 days in space, interacted and shared her experiences with students at National Science Centre in New Delhi on Monday. Sunita Williams's itinerary includes visits to Delhi, Mumbai and Gujarat.
"I never envisioned to be an astronaut and had many failures, but ultimately I reached here," said Sunita Williams. So while she has "pretty much seen the whole of India" from space she is excited to explore more of the country which she is visiting five years after she came here last in the year 2007.
"There are places where I need to go. I have not been to south. I would like to go to Himalayas also", she said. "My father is from Ahmedabad. So I have seen that part of India. In this trip, I'm excited to see eastern side of India. I have never been there. I have been in space. So I have pretty much seen the whole of India," said the 47-year-old astronaut who is daughter of an Indian father from Gujarat and a Slovenian mother.
She is the second woman of Indian origin to have been selected by NASA for a space mission after Kalpana Chawla and the second astronaut of Slovenian heritage after Ronald M Sega.
On her voyages into space, Sunita Williams said she had carried with her a copy each of the Upanishads and the Bhagvad Gita to reflect and read. "I also carried samosas in space during my travel, you can never have enough," she said talking about her love for Indian food.
Students bombarded her with questions on her experiences in space, especially about Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian American astronaut and first Indian woman in space. In 2003, Chawla was one of seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003.
Sunita Williams also has a new record under her belt - the maximum time spent spacewalking which is 50 hours and 40 minutes. She was the commander of Expedition 33 at International Space Station and she returned to earth along with two of her colleagues in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. According to American space agency NASA the Soyuz capsule landed at 8:56 pm on November 18 in Kazakhstan's northeast of Arkalyk steppes.
Sunita has spent a record 322 days in the space and in the second most experienced woman astronaut in America. She has holds the record of longest space flight (195 days) among women space travelers. She returned to earth with Aki Hoshide of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko after spending 125 in space circling earth onboard the ISS. The trio had blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 15. She and Hoshide had carried out two spacewalks.
(With additional information from PTI)