Sunita Williams urges Mumbai school kids to take more interest in space exploration
American Astronaut of Indian origin, Cdr. Sunita Williams today charmed the students of Mumbai, who had gathered at the Nehru Science Centre to listen to her experiences in space travel. Even as students were jostling for space to get a view of their ‘space icon’, Sunita Williams appealed to Indian children to take more interest in space exploration. “I am really looking forward to India’s participation in the space programme in a big way”, she said. The NASA astronaut, who holds the record for longest space walk by a woman, at 50 hours 4o minutes, said “space programme entails a lot a creativity and requires great imagination. Follow your dreams to realize your creative potential”.
Speaking about the International Space Station, Williams said “it is a collaborative venture, where different countries are actively participating. It has brought the world together.” She also hoped that in future, ISRO and NASA would also collaborate, that would open up several opportunities for young Indians interested in pursuing career in space exploration.
During her interactive lecture, she made a video presentation on her latest space expedition – Expedition 33, which was launched from Biakonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 15, 2012. The video, which began with narrating the preparatory drill for a space travel, also showed the working environment inside the space station, nature of experiments conducted, performance of space walk etc. It also described in detail, how a typical day in space is spent, particularly focusing on the challenges encountered in performing routine activities like brushing teeth and using the loo.
“While in space, we see 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets in a span of 24 hours. Naturally, you can not wake up every time the sun rises and go to sleep once it is dark. We set our day to the GMT and wake up around 6 a.m. and do pretty much the same things we do at home. The work hours are between 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. GMT, when the Command Centre on the Earth, gives us assignments for the day” she said. “In the beginning, it all looks very clumsy, but soon you learn to float around smoothly and get accustomed to living without gravity” she added.
Sunita Williams was the Commander of Expedition 33, who was accompanied by by Russian Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide. Her team spent four months conducting a wide range of experiments and investigations, including testing radiation levels on the orbiting outposts, assessing how micro-gravity affects the spinal cord etc. During this mission, Williams and Hoshide performed three space walks to replace a component that relays power from the space station’s solar arrays to its systems and repaired an ammonia leak on a station radiator. The crew returned safely on November 18, 2012, after spending 127 days in space.
Sunita Williams said she loved speaking to children and motivate them to take interest in science. During this leg of her India visit, which began on April 1, she has already interacted with students at the National Science Centre in New Delhi and Science City in Kolkata. She plans to end her trip by visiting Gujarat along with an excursion to her native village in Mehsana district where she will be meeting members of her fathers’ family.