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Indian-origin Sunita Williams, Butch Wilmore to fly to space on Boeing’s Starliner on Tuesday

New Delhi, May 6, 2024
Indian-origin NASA astronaut Sunita Williams is all set to fly to space on Boeing’s Starliner on Tuesday, along with Butch Wilmore.

The flight is expected to take off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 8.04 a.m. IST on May 7 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The 59-year-old is set to create history by being the first woman to fly on the maiden mission of a new human-rated spacecraft.

This will be Sunita’s third flight to space — the first in 2006 and the second in 2012.

According to NASA, “Sunita has spent a cumulative total of 322 days in space.”

“When I reach the International Space Station, it will be like going back home,” she was quoted as saying to NDTV.

Sunita, who will serve as the mission pilot, has named the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft “Calypso” for her love of the ocean.

It is also “in reference to the ship of famed explorer Jacques Cousteau, who sailed across the world on his own ship bearing the same name,” NASA shared in a post on X.com.

Meanwhile, NASA predicts about a 95 per cent chance of favourable weather conditions at the launch pad for a liftoff.

The mission called Crew Flight Test (CFT) will last about 10 days and will demonstrate the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system.

“Tomorrow, Butch Wilmore and @Astro_Suni lift off to the stars,” Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator, said in a post on X.

“Their mission: to test #Starliner for commercial flight. Sate travels, star sailors. You are the pride of our great nation,” he added.

The Starliner spacecraft, with a diameter of 15 feet (4.56 meters), is capable of carrying up to four astronauts, or a mix of crew and cargo, for NASA missions to low Earth orbit for the agency’s Commercial Crew Programme.(Agency)

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