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Home > News > Report

Sunita now wants to go to the moon

Suman Guha Mozumder in New York | June 21, 2007 10:54 IST

Astronaut [Images] Sunita Williams should be home Thursday noon after an arduous six-month-long space sojourn, but the gritty astronaut of Indian origin has seemingly not lost her appetite for a second celestial exploration.

During a live interview with American television channels Wednesday from Atlantis, shown on NASA [Images] television, Williams said she thinks about going to the moon.

'Absolutely. We are thinking about how we are actually going to be able to get the space station there and may be able to live there,' she said in response to a question.

'Absolutely, [that is what] we have at the back of our minds,' she said, adding that all of the astronauts on board Atlantis 'have probably seen the Apollo guys up in the moon,' alluding to the  human space flight program of the US.

Asked what her dream mission would be, the 42-year-old, who has created a record as the longest-staying woman astronaut in space, said she could not imagine anything better than what she has just come up with. 'I cannot hope for anything better. I am fortunate,' she said.

The STS-117 crew prepared for landing on earth. NASA said two opportunities are available Thursday for Space Shuttle [Images] Atlantis that is bringing them back to earth to land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida [Images].

The first landing opportunity available is on Orbit 202, which calls for the deorbit burn to occur 12:50 pm EDT with a 1:55 pm touchdown.  The final opportunity of the day is on the next orbit. It begins with the deorbit burn at 2:25 pm and ends with a 3:30 pm landing.

While Sunita's husband is in Florida to welcome her, her mother Bonnie Pandya and sister Dina have gone to Houston, where Sunita is expected to come in a few days to be in rehabilitation, or rehab as NASA calls it, a regimen strictly for any returning cosmonaut for the betterment of their health.

But evidently, Sunita cannot wait to meet her folks and her beloved dog Gorby, who she left in her parents' care in Needham, Massachusetts. "She said she is dying to come back to see her husband, her Gorby (her dog) and us," Deepak Pandya said, recalling the last conversation with his daughter on the weekend.

In response to a question Wednesday, Williams said from Atlantis that she was not sure where Gorby, a little Jack Russell Terrier  named after former Soviet Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev would be when she lands.

'I think he will be up there in the Massachusetts (at her parents') home. He should be back in Texas by the weekend. So, I think I should be able to take him for a walk on the beach by Sunday morning.' she said.