Meet Sunita Williams, Butch Wilmore, NASA astronauts onboard Boeing's Starliner | World News - Hindustan Times
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Meet Sunita Williams, Butch Wilmore, NASA astronauts onboard Boeing's Starliner

Jun 06, 2024 11:05 AM IST

NASA's Starliner spacecraft is carrying two veteran NASA astronauts, Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore, and is expected to reach the ISS today.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Boeing Starliner launched toward the International Space Station (ISS) from the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida in a test flight on Wednesday after multiple delays. This was the third attempt since early May, after a pair of rocket-related problems, most recently last weekend.

Astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore ahead of an inaugural crewed test flight of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. (PTI)
Astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore ahead of an inaugural crewed test flight of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. (PTI)

The Starliner spacecraft is carrying two veteran NASA astronauts, Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore, and is expected to reach the ISS around 9:45 pm (IST) on Thursday.

Who is Sunita Williams?

Sunita Williams, an Indian-American astronaut, is a former Navy helicopter pilot with experience in flying more than 30 different rotary aircraft. During the first Gulf War, Williams was deployed as part of a helicopter combat support squadron and was later flown in support of Navy disaster relief operations in Florida following Hurricane Andrew.

In 1998, Williams was selected for the NASA astronaut program. She began her journey by first flying to the space station aboard a space shuttle and then making a return visit as a Soyuz passenger, riding along with two cosmonauts. During her second ISS mission in 2012, Williams became only the second woman designated as commander of the station.

She also had set a world record for the most time spent by a woman in orbit outside a spacecraft, logging a total of 50 hours and 40 minutes combined during seven spacewalks.

Also read: Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams gives insight into 1st crewed Boeing Starliner launch: ‘It feels unreal’

An avid athlete, Williams became the first person to complete a marathon in space in 2007, competing virtually in the Boston Marathon from orbit on the space station's treadmill to go the distance in four hours and 24 minutes, reported Reuters. Later, in 2012, she completed the first triathlon in space.

According to reports, Williams has spent a total of 322 days in space so far.

Who is Butch Wilmore?

Butch Wilmore is a retired US Navy captain who has completed four operational deployments flying fighter jets off the decks of aircraft carriers, including 21 combat missions during the first US Gulf War in the 1990s. He has also served as a Navy test pilot and flight instructor.

Wilmore joined the NASA astronaut corps in 2000. He first flew to the space station as a NASA space shuttle pilot in 2009, and returned to the orbiting laboratory in 2014 - launched aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with two cosmonauts.

So far, Wilmore has spent 178 days in space and conducted four spacewalks, reported Reuters.

He also holds advanced degrees in electrical engineering and aviation systems.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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