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Sunita Williams dances as her Boeing Starliner capsule docks with Space Station (WATCH)

Sunita Williams, the 59-year-old Indian-American astronaut, was launched aboard the Boeing Starliner, alongside Wilmore, a NASA astronaut, from Cape Canaveral, Florida on June 5.

Sunita Williams dances as her Boeing Starliner capsule docks with Space Station (WATCH) gcw
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First Published Jun 7, 2024, 11:30 AM IST

The Boeing Starliner with Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams and her crewmate Butch Wilmore on Thursday safely docked with the International Space Station (ISS). The 59-year-old astronaut has become the first woman to pilot and test a new crewed spacecraft on its maiden mission.

Williams, who has already made three trips to the International Space Station (ISS), is returning with an idol of Lord Ganesh and the Bhagavad Gita. She conducted a short dance and gave hugs to the other seven astronauts on board the International Space Station to commemorate her arrival at the station.

Williams and Wilmore were welcomed by the ringing of a bell, which is an old ISS tradition. Speaking about her "dance party," Sunita Williams stated, "That's the way to get things going." She referred to her colleagues as "another family" and expressed her gratitude for "such a great welcome".

Williams and Willmore are the first crew to fly Starliner. About 26 hours after taking off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, they were able to link the Boeing spacecraft with the International Space Station. Before docking, the two NASA astronauts watched as Starliner performed a series of automated manoeuvres to gradually approach the orbiting laboratory.

For Williams, a veteran of two previous space shuttle missions totalling 322 days in orbit, this flight marks another pioneering milestone in her trailblazing career. She previously set records for most spacewalks (seven) and spacewalk time (50 hours, 40 minutes) by a woman during her expeditions aboard the ISS in 2006-2007 and 2012.

The two astronauts are scheduled to spend about a week aboard the station, conducting tests and validating Starliner's systems before returning to Earth for a parachute-assisted landing in the western US.

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