After Kalpana Chawla, Sunita Williams ready for space mission

Houston: Sunita Williams is all set to become the second woman of Indian origin after Kalpana Chawla to blast off on a space mission and spend six months at the International Space Station where US shuttle Discovery will leave her on completion of a 12-day repair job.

Ms Williams, 41, the daughter Deepak and Bonnie Pandya, arrived at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida for a final stretch of training and preparations for Friday’s shuttle mission STS-116, the first night launch since the 2003 Columbia disaster. The spaceflight is scheduled to lift off at 8:05 on Friday will take along the most rookie crew since 1988 as five of the seven members have never flown in space before. Besides Ms Williams, the crew includes mission commander Mark Polansky, pilot William Oefelein, mission specialists Joan Higginbotham; Nicholas Patrick; lead spacewalker Bob Curbeam; and the European Space Agency’s Describing as having most culturally diverse space shuttle crew, Ms Williams said she was aware of her mixed ethnicity and the interest her spaceflight has aroused in India.


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