M A I N   N E W S

Sunita ‘Person of the Week’
Dharam Shourie

New York, June 23
Hours after she returned to earth onboard shuttle Atlantis after a record 195-day stay in space, Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams was chosen ‘Person of the Week’ by a leading US television network.

The shuttle touched down safely at the Edwards Air Force Base in California on Friday after poor weather at the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral forced mission managers to skip three landing attempts in California.

“Welcome back and congratulations on a great mission,” NASA mission control said to Sunita and six other members of the Atlantis crew soon after the shuttle landed. After the landing, 41-year-old Sunita was chosen ‘Person of the Week’ by the ABC Television Network.

In December, the network noted, she had her long hair cut so she could donate her locks to help those who have lost their hair while fighting an illness.

Long hair is not very practical in space anyway, where she also set the world record for a female astronaut on spacewalks, totalling 29 hours and 17 minutes, ABC said while announcing its ‘Person of Week’.

Sunita proved that she could not only walk in space but run also, ABC said. For, when her sister Dina Pandya ran the Boston Marathon April 16, Sunita ran her own marathon in space using a treadmill suspended by gyroscopes to minimise any impact of pounding feet on the space station.

“I was thinking about her. If she's going through this, I can do it,” Dina Pandya said.

Despite her success in space, Sunita said she did not immediately get her dream job in flight.

“I tell little girls about the story. I started flight school when 'Top Gun' (a Tom Cruise movie) came out, so of course everybody wanted to fly jets,” she told ABC News earlier this week. — PTI



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