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Published on Jul 15, 2012

Sunita Williams (born Sunita Pandya Krishna; September 19, 1965) is an American astronaut and United States Navy officer who holds the record for longest spaceflight by a woman.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 space flight (195 days) among female space travelers.
Williams was born in Euclid, Ohio to Deepak Pandya and Bonnie Pandya, who reside in Falmouth, Massachusetts; Deepak Pandya is a well-known neuroanatomist. Williams' roots on her father's side go back to Gujarat in India and she has been to India to visit her father's family. She is of Slovenian descent from her mother's side; therefore, she would be Indian-Slovenian American.[3]

She is married to Michael J. Williams, a Federal police officer in Oregon. The two have been married for more than 20 years, and both flew helicopters in the early days of their careers. She has a pet Jack Russell Terrier named Gorby who was featured with her on the "Dog Whisperer" television show on the National Geographic Channel on November 12, 2010.Her recreational interests include running, swimming, biking, triathlons, windsurfing, snowboarding and bow hunting. She is an avid Boston Red Sox fan.
Selected by NASA in June 1998, Williams began her training in August 1998.[1] Her Astronaut Candidate training included orientation briefings and tours, numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training and ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training, as well as learning water and wilderness survival techniques. She surpassed Kathryn Thornton, who had three spacewalks, as the woman with the most spacewalks. Peggy Whitson later surpassed her for woman with the most spacewalks. Following a period of training and evaluation, Williams worked in Moscow with the Russian Space Agency on the Russian contribution to the ISS, and with the first expedition crew sent to the ISS. Following the return of Expedition 1, Williams worked within the Robotics branch on the ISS Robotic Arm and the related Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator. She was a crew member on the NEEMO 2 mission, living underwater in the Aquarius habitat for nine days in May 2002.[1]

As of 2008, Sunita Williams serves as NASA's Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office.[8] She is assigned as a backup crew member for Expedition 30 to the International Space Station to be flown in 2011 and will be the Commander of Expedition 33, a six-month mission scheduled to begin in the spring of 2012.

Like many astronauts, Williams is a licensed amateur radio operator, having passed the technician class license exam in 2001, and was issued the call sign KD5PLB by the Federal Communications Commission on August 13, 2001.[9] She used one of the two amateur radio stations aboard the ISS when she talked with school children.[10]

Williams was selected to appear on the Colbert Report to announce the name for Node 3 of the ISS.

Williams is the second woman of Indian origin to have been selected by NASA for a space mission after Kalpana Chawla and the second Astronaut of Slovenian origin after Ronald M. Sega. She holds three records as a female space travelers: longest spaceflight (195 days), number of spacewalks (four), and total time spent on spacewalks (29 hours and 17 minutes).

She is a Hindu and a devotee of the Hindu God Ganesha.[5] She took with her a copy of Bhagavad Gita and an idol of Lord Ganesha when she visited the International Space Station on her record-breaking space flight.[6] Sunita Williams has expressed a desire to adopt a girl child from Ahmedabad.


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