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Sunita Williams savours time in space

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NASA astronaut Sunita Williams talks about her experiences in space to Indian students through a video conference.
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams talks about her experiences in space to Indian students through a video conference.

Zubeda Hamid

Interacts with Indian students through a video conference

The next best thing to becoming an astronaut is to listen to one recount her experiences in space

CHENNAI: Getting to watch 16 sunrises in 24 hours sounds like a good enough reason to want to become an astronaut. Flying, space walking and living with people from different countries makes it seem an experience too tempting to pass up. But, since not all of us can become astronauts, the next best thing would be to listen to one recount her experiences in space.

The air was filled with delicious excitement at the US Consulate here on Friday, as school and college students waited for the digital conference with Sunita Williams, an American astronaut of Indian origin. Scientists, teachers, journalists and students in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai were all part of the conference.

“I almost forgot what it was like to walk,” Ms. Williams said, describing her experience of flying within the International Space Station, holding on to railings with hands and feet.

Living in the station from last December till this June was an “extraordinary experience,” she said. Various experiments were conducted at the station, including one on nutrition where the astronauts gave samples of their blood and urine for testing to determine how their food and exercise affected their bone density. They also grew plants and wrote journals, Ms. Williams said.

In response to a question from a student in IIT, Chennai, she said all her hard work and persistence had paid off in the end. “The ride on a rocket was totally worth it,” she said, laughing. It was the culmination of hard work and luck, she added.

Growing up in a household of two different cultures, she had taken the good qualities of both, Ms. Williams said. Her hard work and persistence came from both cultures, and her father served as her role model, she said, answering another Chennai student’s question.

Other school students from Chennai questioned Ms. Williams on her re-adaptation to earth, and how astronauts dealt with time. At the end of the conference, a quiz was held for the students. The winner, Pooja Seth from Sacred Heart School was presented with a book on Sunita Williams.

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