The Telegraph
Monday , April 1 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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School students’ date with astronaut

She has not done the moonwalk but has walked 50 hours and 40 minutes in space, a record for cumulative spacewalk by a female astronaut. She has commandeered the Expedition-33 International Space Station Mission and spent 322 days in space. Her interests include triathlon, windsurfing, snowboarding and bow hunting. She is Captain Sunita L. Williams.

Students from around 20 schools in the city will get to hear the Indian-American astronaut speak at the Science City auditorium on April 2.

Williams will deliver a lecture at the National Science Centre in Delhi on April 1 and follow up her first Calcutta visit with one to the Nehru Science Centre in Mumbai.

“We are honoured that Sunita Williams has agreed to come to Calcutta. The National Council of Science Museums had been in touch with her to get her to come to India. When they found out that she was travelling to Gujarat this year, where her paternal family comes from, they invited her to visit metro cities and she readily agreed,” said Arijit Dutta Choudhury, director, Science City.

The students who will attend the Calcutta lecture are from classes VIII to IX. “Our main objective is to whet the young students’ appetite for science,” said Dutta Choudhury. After the lecture, the students will get half an hour’s interactive time with the astronaut.

Sunita, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in physical science from the US Naval Academy and a master’s from the Florida Institute of Technology, began her career with the US navy. She was selected by Nasa in June 1998 and began her training as astronaut at Johnson Space Centre.

Williams was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the space shuttle Discovery on December 9, 2006, to join the Expedition-14 crew.

She was assigned as a backup crew member for Expedition-30 to the ISS, was a crew member of Expedition-32, which launched in July 2012, and then became the commander of Expedition-33, which began in September 2012 and touched down on earth on November 19, 2012.