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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Must take care of beautiful Earth: Sunita Williams

PTI  Uvarsad, Gujarat, April 05, 2013
First Published: 16:57 IST(5/4/2013) | Last Updated: 17:00 IST(5/4/2013)

Saying that we must take care of our planet, Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams on Friday said it was only in the space shuttle that she realised how beautiful the Earth was.

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"What a pretty planet we live in!....we must take care of the beautiful planet that we live on. A lot of trash, ammunitions and waste is generated....It's only when I was in the space shuttle that I realised that we live in such a beautiful planet," said Williams, who interacted with students of Unitedworld School of Business in Uvarsad, 30km from Ahmedabad.

When asked what was the most important thing she learnt from her space mission, Williams said that it was the insight that people across the world are same.

"Everyone wants to be nice to others, learn from others. That is what I also learnt from my astronaut colleagues," said Williams, whose family hails from Gujarat's Jhulasan village in Mehsana district.

She termed the sacrifices made by her parents for her as the biggest inspiration. "My parents are my biggest inspiration. My father was closely associated with India's Independence movement and he was in touch with Mahatma Gandhi, whose life and teachings have always been an inspiration. Mother Teresa, with her idea of giving back to the society, is also highly motivational."

She also expressed her wish to be a part of another space mission. "We are building a new spacecraft. Would love to be part of that... All this is in the short term.

"But in the long run, I would first like to settle down and help my husband. I would like to be a Grade-7 School Science teacher," she said.

As someone who wanted to be a veterinarian following in the footsteps of her father, circumstances forced her to change her plans.

"I first went to college before joining US Navy where I wanted to be a Jet pilot. But I was made a helicopter pilot," she said, highlighting that there were a lot of things that didn't pan out the way she thought.

Asked if it gets lonely in the space, she said, "No, it doesn't get lonely. There is enough connection to Earth that you don't really feel all alone. You can make phone calls to friends and family."

But it is no cakewalk, said the 47-year-old astronaut who holds the world record for the spacewalk time - 50 hours 40 minutes. "It (space mission) is a risky business. Space mission is a slow process..." said Williams, who is on a week-long visit to India.

"International Space Station is like traffic congestion on the roads of Gujarat. You've to be very careful. It is always busy," she said, jokingly.


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