The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Spacewalker Sunita in dream call
- Message before stepping out in emptiness: If you believe in it, it’ll come true

Houston, Dec. 16: While you were sleeping, Sunita Williams was taking a walk. In space.

Before she went for her debut spacewalk with veteran astronaut Robert Curbeam, the Indian-American told Indians to dream like her. “If you believe in it, it will come true,” she said.

They will complete the task of rewiring the International Space Station (ISS)’s power grid that Curbeam started with a third astronaut on Thursday. Nasa, the US space agency, is also turning to the spacewalkers to free a jammed solar panel, which is part of the space lab’s temporary power system.

“It is a great opportunity. It’s just a nice place to live,” a beaming Sunita, dressed in a red T-shirt, told a news conference in which the astronauts shared their experiences from the orbiting space station.

Sunita and Curbeam were to start their six-hour spacewalk — with the possibility of a one-hour extension — at 0107 IST Sunday.

“My new home is beautiful. It’s a little bit crowded right now with all the stuff we’ve brought over… and my shuttle comrades here,” she said with her loose hair flowing uncontrollably upwards in the zero gravity of the space station.

Apart from some photographs, Sunita is carrying a copy of the Gita, a small statue of Lord Ganesha and a letter written in Hindi by her father, representing her half-Indian heritage to keep her company during her six-month stay at the space lab.

“We all have a small amount that we can take up on (the Discovery) shuttle,” she said.

“For the (ISS) station we have a little extra [room] where we can take up stuff that we can really use while we are up there, like a ball cap or whatever.”

“It’s just like your office, where you have pictures of your family or little things that are mementoes to you and some of that stuff is a little extra for station crew members [as] we are going to be there for a longer period of time.”

The photos include a special member of 41-year-old Sunita’s family: her “crazy” Jack Russell terrier named Gorby.

Unfortunately, she said: “I cannot bring my dog [with me] but there will be a lot of pictures of my dog up there.”

The first woman of Indian descent to venture into space after Kalpana Chawla, Sunita said she was all excited to go out.

“It should be pretty nice.... Hopefully, it will go just the same and we’ll be just as good.”

Sunita joined the crew of the ISS a week ago when the Discovery shuttle docked with the station. Discovery is supposed to return on December 21.

Sunita will remain aboard the ISS for another six months.

Written with PTI and Reuters reports

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