A different image of Sunita Williams greeted Indian audiences on Friday. The last time she had spoken from outer space, ‘bouncing’ about in her space shuttle with her hair flying. But the excitement this time was no less.
Talking about her experiences in space, where she spent a record six months, she said, “Radical changes take place in your body when you are up there.”
She described the “flying around” and the “monkey-like feet movements” as being the most interesting features of life in space. “You are a sort of bird, a sort of fish up there,” she said.
Much to the delight of the students, scientists and journalists gathered at the United States Information Centres in New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai, Sunita began her 45-minute video conferencing session by greeting all with an impeccably pronounced “Namaste.” She described her ride on the space shuttle as “bumpy, but totally worth it.”
“We saw crystal clear stars, and even got an opportunity to see the Northern Lights in December,” she said.
Sunita said she would love to fly to Mars, if not the moon. “I would love to go to Mars ... just because it is a different planet.”
Asked to choose between the moon and Mars as her next destination, she said she would love to go to the moon but Mars would be “different”.
The astronaut explained her decision to take an idol of Lord Ganesh and the Bhagwad Gita with her on her expedition, as the outcome of her having “grown up in an Indian-American household”.
Appreciating Indian culture and thanking all Indians who prayed for her safe return, Sunita also spoke of how she considered herself to be “honoured that India has picked up on my background”.
“I looked like a mummy for days. I couldn’t move my head around much and had to walk very straight,” Sunita said.
She is now “eagerly looking forward” to her first visit to India, which she hopes will happen soon.