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Sunita Williams is on her way back home
Suman Guha Mozumder in New York | June 20, 2007 11:51 IST
Last Updated: June 20, 2007 12:02 IST
In a telltale sign of her cheery mood, Sunita Williams was all smiles on Tuesday night on board space shuttle Atlantis as it began its journey down to Earth ending her six-month-long stay on the International Space Station [Images], a record for a woman astronaut.
"It is a pretty emotional event for me to stay six months in space," Williams said. NASA [Images] telecast the undocking of Atlantis from the ISS as it circled around the station to collect video and imagery of the station.
"Finally, she is on her way back home," an emotional Dipak Pandya, father of Sunita Williams, said.
Sunita was pretty much upbeat and was in very good mood when she last spoke with her folks, including mother Bonnie Pandya and sister Dina.
"She is in high spirits. She said she was feeling a bit nostalgic having to leave the space station and her cosmonaut friends. Nonetheless, she said she is dying to come back to see her husband, her Gorby (her dog) and us," Dipak Pandya said.
Williams said she has to be fit when she comes down to Earth on Thursday and that she did some workouts just after Atlantis separated from the space station.
"One of the things that I will have to do when I get back is to get back to shape," she said.
If she is itching to see her folks, people on Earth, including in Falmouth, her summer home till she went to embrace the career of astronaut, and in some parts of India, are also waiting to see her and to meet with her to listen to her splendid experience 220 miles above Earth.
In Jhulasan village in Gujarat, where Dipak Pandya grew up as a young child, residents organised a mass prayer for a week for Sunita's safe return. "A friend of mine, Dinesh Patel, a kind of sarpanch or something of the village, has called me three time in the past one week to tell me about this. They heard that Sunita has some connection with Jhulasan village and they have started considering her as their daughter," Pandya said.
What is the doting father doing ahead of her little Suni's return?
"I am answering phone calls all the time. There are so many calls from Boston area, Rhode Island, and even India. Everybody wants to know about her. Me and my wife have tried to be accommodative as far as we can. Sure, we can do this for Sunita," he said.
Neither Pandya nor wife Bonnie is apparently worried about her safe return. "I am not doing anything special. Just the usual prayer. Thank God everything has worked out well for her and I am waiting agog for her return," he said.
"I can see her going away and away and away from the space station, her home for the last several months," he said in an emotional voice.