Sunita Williams To Return To ISS As Commander Of Expedition 33
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com
Indian-American female astronaut, Sunita Williams, who spent a record 6 months aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2006, will be making a triumphant return to the orbiting outpost, when she, along with two others, launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 14, reports the Press Trust of India.
Williams, 46, will catch a ride on a Soyuz spacecraft with Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, NASA said in a statement.
The team will join Expedition 32 crew already stationed on the ISS, and then Williams will take over as Commander of Expedition 33 once her crew boards the station.
Williams, daughter of an Indian father from Gujarat and a Slovenian mother, is currently making final preparations for the July 14 launch, according to NASA.
Williams, who received a master´s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1995, holds three records for females in space: she spent a record 195 days in space during Expedition 14/15; she has also partook in four space walks, spending a record total of 29 hours and 17 minutes on those walks.
“I´m just looking forward to seeing the full capability of the space station, it´s an experiment, not only the things that we´re doing inside but also all the engineering that has gone into allowing us to dock new vehicles, do space walks, Russian and US,” Williams told reporters at a news conference.
Williams and her colleagues will be privy to a number of activities and experiments during their time on the ISS, including a planned space walks and a planned orbital sporting event to kick off the Summer Olympics in London.
Among the experiments will be an exercise protocol called “Sprint” which aims to help the ISS crew understand if intense exercise is better than long exercise in space. “It´s a pretty complicated experiment, and from the name you can understand it´s trying to understand what is happening with your heart on board,” said Williams.
Williams is the second woman of Indian heritage to have been selected by NASA for a space mission after Kalpana Chawla.