Sunita Williams takes off on 2nd space mission
Washington, 15 July 2012 (PTI): Indian-American Sunita Williams, a record-setting astronaut who lived and worked aboard the International Space Station for six months in 2006, has taken off from Kazakhstan on her 2nd space odyssey today.
A 46-year-old Williams took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8:10am with flight engineers Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, NASA said.The three crew members will join the Expedition 32 crew aboard the International Space Station when their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft docks to the orbiting complex on Tuesday.
According to NASA, Williams, a flight engineer, and her colleagues will be aboard the station during an exceptionally busy period that includes two spacewalks, the arrival of Japanese, US commercial and Russian resupply vehicles, and an increasingly faster pace of scientific research.
Williams, whose father hailed from Gujarat, was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1998. She was assigned to the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 14 and then joined Expedition 15. She holds the record of the longest spaceflight (195 days) for woman space travellers.
She received a master’s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1995.
In the space, Williams, who will become commander of Expedition 33, and her team of astronauts plan an orbital sporting event to mark the Summer Olympics in London.
"I’m just looking forward to seeing the full capability of the space station, it’s an experiment, not only the things that we’re doing inside but also all the engineering that has gone into allowing us to dock new vehicles, do space walks, Russian and US. So, it’s a pretty complicated vehicle now and I’m looking forward to being part of it," Williams said recently.