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'Proud of my Indian heritage'

“The ride back to earth is bumpy,” said Sunita Williams, the American astronaut of Indian origin on her second day in the city, to much laughter from the audience. Williams addressed school children and mediapersons at the Nehru Science Centre in Worli yesterday. The audience listened attentively as she shared her other worldly experiences and talked about everything from her love for India to the existence of aliens.


Sunita Williams gestures during her speech. Pic/Bipin Kokate

On India
I am very proud of my Indian heritage. The last time I came here was a long time ago (2007). So much has changed since my last visit. The experience has been great. Anyone who is part Indian feels connected to India. There is so much history here, it runs deep. Since I have been at NASA, there’s been a growing relationship between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and NASA and that’s great. I wish India a lot of luck for the Mars mission. I will be in the background, cheering.

On space tourism
It is an interesting concept. I wish everyone could take a lap around the planet (Earth). If space tourism picks up, that means more competition, and better safer and cheaper ways to go to space, so more people will be able to view earth from above.

On being in space
It changes your perspective on everything. You see our planet and feel how lucky we are that we are alive and living on the planet, interacting and learning from each other. There are geographical boundaries, but national borders are little lines. I am proud to be Indian, Slovenian and American. There are no borders from space.

On spirituality in space
Being analytical and logical as a method of scientific explanation is fine, but going to space also makes you question who you are and where you are. You have to stop and think how you got here and that you are a part of something much bigger.

On benefits of space research
Some of the benefits are energy and power related. The International Space Station (ISS) is powered by solar energy. Powering objects in space forces people to think out of the box. You get a lot of bang for your buck when you invest in space research as it brings together many creative minds.

On aliens
I didn’t experience any alien life, though something out there probably creates some kind of life.

On future plans
I want to continue with my space programme, help those who are building a new spacecraft. Eventually, when I grow up, I would want to be a school science teacher.

Swami Vivekanand International School, Kandivli

Saumya Anandpara (14), Std VIII
Saumya Anandpara (14), Std VIII

I learnt how it is in space, what are the differences between earth and space and how to solve them and face emergencies in space.

Janish Parikh (13), Std VIII
Janish Parikh (13), Std VIII

She is an inspiration, a role model. After listening to her, I want to join NASA as an engineer.

Sauravh Rane (13), Std VIII
Sauravh Rane (13), Std VIII

I was very inspired by seeing an Indian astronaut in NASA record. Her achievements are truly appreciated. I want to be a NASA pilot.

Amar Desai (13), Std VIII
Amar Desai (13), Std VIII

It was an excellent lecture. I learnt about the International Space Station and how is the weather there. I want to be a NASA engineer working on robotic arms.

St Gregorios High School, Chembur

Muskaan Mehta (13), Std VIII
Muskaan Mehta (13), Std VIII

I thought astronauts just go to space, do work and come back. But now I want to go and float in space, see Mumbai from space.

Charmi Popat (12), Std VIII
Charmi Popat (12), Std VIII

It was an inspiring lecture. Sunita is cheerful, hardworking and even at her age, she wants to discover new facts. I want to be an astronaut.

Aayushi Bhimani (13), Std VIII
Aayushi Bhimani (13), Std VIII

I got to know many facts about space which I didn’t know earlier. After I saw the presentation (a series of clips about Sunita’s time in the spacecraft and at ISS), I want to see earth from space.

Shramik Vidyalaya, Jogeshwari

Manali Parab (15), Std X
It was an interesting presentation. Sunita Williams is a very active and smart astronaut. She gave us good knowledge about interesting technology.

Manali Parab (15), Std X and Nidhi Gawas (15), Std X

Nidhi Gawas (15), Std X
The lecture was very interesting. Sunita Williams is my idol. The aim of my life is to be an astronaut.

St Francis High School, Bhayander

Raunaq Pawan (14), Std IX
Raunaq Pawan (14), Std IX

I asked Sunita, “What is your feeling when you escape earth’s gravity and enter space?” She said she was very excited. In the beginning she had a feeling that was very weird, and even pain in the chest. She liked to float in air. Her answer made me feel like my dream had come true.

Bai Ratanbai F Pavri High School

Safina Mubin Qureshi (13), Std VIII
Meeting Sunita Williams in real life is like a complex dream come true. She is a very nice woman. The way she explains is amazing, makes difficult concepts easy to understand. It made us more curious about the subject of science. I wish I could become a woman like her in the future.

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