Wed. May 22nd, 2024

Sunita Williams: Why is Indian-origin Sunita Williams going to space for the 3rd time?

Sunita Williams: Why is Indian-origin Sunita Williams goingSunita Williams: Why is Indian-origin Sunita Williams going

Sunita Williams will be joined on the journey by NASA’s Barry Wilmore. They will fly the Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) to dock in zero gravity before splashing down on Earth.

In short

  • The United States seeks to certify the second spacecraft with orbital capability.
  • Williams dubbed the crew capsule Calypso in 2019.
  • Wilmore and Williams will spend approximately a week at the orbiting laboratory.

Sunita Williams, an experienced astronaut and former naval test pilot, is poised for her third space mission.

Having already accumulated 322 days in space over two missions, Williams was slated to launch aboard Boeing Starliner’s test flight as part of the company’s certification process with NASA. However, the flight was scrubbed on Tuesday.

Williams is accompanied by NASA’s Barry Wilmore on this flight, as they navigate the Starliner spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) in zero gravity before returning to splashdown on Earth.

The journey from launch to splashdown is expected to last around 10 days, contributing additional flight hours and experience to Williams’ impressive record.

Why is Sunita William traveling to space again?

Sunita Williams is participating in the Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission, a collaborative effort between NASA and Boeing. Throughout the mission, she and her fellow astronauts will take on the task of piloting the newly developed Starliner spacecraft into space and safely bringing it back to Earth.

This endeavor aligns with the United States’ goal of certifying another spacecraft with the capability to transport humans to and from space. Currently, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon has been at the forefront of the commercial space race.

The Starliner spacecraft, known as Calypso, can operate autonomously or under manual control and is projected to rendezvous and dock with the space station on Wednesday.

In 2019, Williams selected the name Calypso for the crew capsule as a homage to the explorer Jacques Cousteau, who voyaged around the globe aboard a ship of the same name. Cousteau’s objective was to explore the depths of the ocean and educate others about its marvels. Williams envisions that Starliner can fulfill a similar role in space exploration.

Nasa has announced that Wilmore and Williams are scheduled to spend approximately a week at the orbiting laboratory before the crew capsule undergoes a parachute and airbag-assisted landing in the southwestern United States.

Following their mission, NASA will initiate the final stages of certifying Starliner and its systems for crewed rotation missions to the space station.

Sunita Williams graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1987 and later joined NASA as an astronaut. Following her graduation as a naval aviator in 1989, she was stationed at Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 8 in Norfolk, Virginia. During her tenure there, she took part in missions spanning the Mediterranean, Red Sea, and Persian Gulf, contributing to efforts during Desert Shield and Operation Provide Comfort. She led an H-46 unit during Hurricane Andrew relief operations aboard the USS Sylvania (AFS 2).

After being chosen for Naval Test Pilot School and completing her studies in 1993, Williams took on several leadership positions and piloted a wide range of aircraft.

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With a flying record boasting over 3,000 flight hours across more than 30 different aircraft, Williams stands as one of the most seasoned test pilots. Her expertise caught the attention of NASA, leading to her selection as an astronaut in 1998.

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