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Sunita Williams, an Indian Origin astronaut celebrates her return to Space Station with a dance

Friday, June 7, 2024 • Tamil Comments
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Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams has made history, becoming the first woman to pilot and test a new crewed spacecraft on its maiden mission. On Thursday, she and her crewmate Butch Wilmore safely docked the Boeing Starliner with the International Space Station (ISS), marking a significant milestone in the commercial crew program.

Williams, a veteran astronaut on her third trip to the ISS, was greeted with a warm welcome by the seven other astronauts already aboard, including a traditional bell-ringing ceremony and a celebratory dance party. "That's the way to get things going," she remarked, expressing her joy at returning to the space station, which she described as "another family."

The Starliner's successful docking, which took place about 26 hours after launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, comes after a series of rigorous tests, including the first manual flight of the spacecraft in space. The crew conducted these tests en route to the ISS, overcoming minor technical challenges like helium leaks.

Williams and Wilmore will spend approximately a week on the ISS, assisting with various tests and conducting scientific experiments. Their return to Earth will be unique, as the Starliner is designed for a land-based landing, unlike the SpaceX Crew Module, which splashes down in the ocean.

Williams's journey to the ISS reflects NASA's commitment to having multiple options for transporting astronauts to and from the space station. The Starliner is shaping up to be a reliable alternative to the SpaceX Crew Module, further strengthening NASA's commercial crew program.

Before launch, Williams, who previously carried an idol of Lord Ganesh and the Bhagavad Gita to space, acknowledged feeling a bit nervous about the mission but expressed confidence in the new spacecraft. "When I reach the International Space Station, it will be like going back home," she said. Her previous experience helped shape the design of the Starliner, which can accommodate seven crew members.

Williams, a passionate advocate for space exploration and a role model for aspiring astronauts worldwide, has once again demonstrated her exceptional skills and unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of human achievement.

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