Latest UpdatesNewsKnow why Sunita Williams's Space Mission is getting Extended?

Know why Sunita Williams’s Space Mission is getting Extended?

Astronaut Sunita Williams, the first woman to pilot a new spacecraft on its inaugural crewed mission, will extend her historic journey aboard the International Space Station (ISS) until June 18. Alongside her crewmate Butch Wilmore, Williams is poised to make the most of this prolonged mission.

Williams’ Extended Mission

Contrary to speculations linking the mission extension to the discovery of a ‘superbug’ on the space station, the extension is unrelated. The discovery of the superbug was detailed in a paper published in April, well before Williams docked at the ISS on June 5. The mission extension is driven by NASA’s need for additional time to thoroughly evaluate Boeing’s new Starliner spacecraft, which ferried Williams and Wilmore to the ISS. Originally slated to return to Earth on June 10 after a week-long stay, the astronauts will now remain in space to facilitate further tests and checkouts on the Starliner capsuleā€”a crucial step in certifying it for regular crewed flights to the ISS.

Capitalizing on Extended Presence

NASA officials stated, “The extra days in space will allow teams more time to checkout Starliner’s systems and free up the Expedition crew’s schedule for more spacewalk preparations.” The two visiting astronauts have already begun their extended work schedule. On Monday, Wilmore performed computer maintenance inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox, while Williams installed hardware to support an upcoming space fire investigation.

For Williams, a veteran of two previous space shuttle missions totaling 322 days in orbit, this extension is an opportunity to further cement her legacy in space exploration. During her ISS expeditions in 2006-2007 and 2012, she set records for most spacewalks (7) and spacewalk time (50 hours, 40 minutes) by a woman, before being surpassed by Peggy Whitson.

Celebrating Heritage in Space

The prolonged stay also allows Williams to continue celebrating her Indian-Slovenian heritage in space. She carried samosas and other cultural items aboard the Starliner, highlighting her unique cultural background during this mission.

In this extended period aboard the ISS, Williams and Wilmore will contribute significantly to NASA’s objectives, performing crucial system checkouts and preparing for future spacewalks, all while making history and celebrating diversity in space exploration.

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