Posted On Monday, July 16, 2012 at 09:06:06 AM
|The Soyuz-FG rocket booster
Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams and two others blasted off successfully Sunday in a Russian spacecraft from Kazakhstan for the International Space Station. Along with Yuri Malenchenko of Russia and Akihiko Hoshide of Japan, Williams took off in Soyuz TMA-05M at 0810 IST.
They will travel two days and dock with ISS's Zvezda service module at 04:52 GMT on Tuesday. Before returning in November, the team will conduct 30 experiments on board ISS.
This is 46-year-old Williams’ second trip to outer space. She will be a flight engineer on the station's Expedition 32 crew, and become commander of Expedition 33 on reaching the space station. Williams, whose father hails from Gujarat, was selected as a NASA astronaut in 1998. She was assigned to ISS as a member of Expedition 14, and then joined Expedition 15.
She holds the record of the longest space flight (195 days) for female space travellers. Talking about risks involved, Williams said, "There are risks, but they're calculated risks. We're trained pretty thoroughly for all of that." The space station, which orbits up to 410 km above earth, is bracing to handle an unprecedented level of traffic. Japan's HTV3 cargo ship will dock with ISS next week followed by nine craft making contact with the orbiting satellite over a 17-day span.
Williams to vote from Space
With the US president election to be held on November 6, Williams who is scheduled to return to earth on November 12 will cast her vote from space."There's a special NASA programme called ‘Voting from Space’, we're working through it right now. I'm actually a Florida voter so we had little more work involved. I will vote from space," Williams said before taking off.
Watching Olympics from Space
A sports lover, Williams said she’s excited about watching the London Olympics from space and thinks there is a similarity between ISS’s goal of fostering global cooperation and the spirit of the Olympics. "The Olympics... what is it, it's an international competition to foster friendship and competition and I think that's exactly what the International Space Station is," she said in her pre-flight interview.
Daughter of Deepak Pandya -- a wellknown US-based neuroanatomist from Gujarat. Her mother Bonnie is a native of Slovenia and Sunita calls herself Indian- Slovenian American.
Married to Michael J Williams, a Federal police officer in Oregon. The US Naval officer has logged over 3,000 flight hours in more than 30 different aircrafts.
First space odyssey
Launched to the International Space Station (ISS) with STS-116, aboard the shuttle Discovery, on December 9, 2006.
First space walk: January 3, 2007
Back to earth: June 22, 2007
For the record
Longest spaceflight by a woman: 195 days
Most spacewalks by a woman: Four
Total time spent on spacewalks: 29 hours and 17 minutes
First person ever to to run a Marathon in space -- On April 16, 2007, she finished the Boston Marathon in four hours and 24 minutes.