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The SunitaWilliams File

March 2007
The SunitaWilliams File


6 Months she's spending in the International Space Station.

9 Days she spent in an underwater laboratory in 2002.

16 Years she has been married.

30 Different aircraft she flew in the Navy.

41 Her age. (She was born Sept. 19, 1965, in Euclid, Ohio.)

1757 Minutes she had spent spacewalking as of Feb. 9, a women's record.

2770 Flight hours she logged as a Navy pilot.


"When I was five years old or so,I saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon and thought, ‘Wow -- that's cool.' I mean, that's what I would like to do. ? I never really thought that, that would happen in my life. It seemed too far out there, something that I could never achieve." (NASA)

"So many people in the Astronaut Office are from different countries and cultures, and every time someone goes up that can identify with a group of people on the ground, you get that group of people wondering, ‘Wow, maybe that could be me one day.'" (NASA)

"Don't ever let anyone tell you, ‘You can't do it.' ? If you know that's what you want, you've just got to go for it." (Nirali magazine)


Known as "Suni" to family and friends, she is the daughter of Dr. Deepak and Mrs. Bonnie Pandya of Falmouth, Mass. Her father, a neuroanatomist, immigrated from India; her mother is of Slovenian descent.

She has been married to Michael J. Williams, a police officer, for more than 16 years.

She earned a bachelor's degree in physical science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1987 and a master's degree in Engineering Management from Florida Institute of Technology in 1995.

She was selected by NASA in June 1998 and reported for training in August 1998, more than eight years before she went into space.


When Williams joined NASA, she became friends with Kalpana Chawla, the first female astronaut of Indian origin, who died in the 2003 explosion of the space shuttle Columbia. They went bike riding andhiking together.

"She says she learnt a lot from her (Kalpana)," Williams' father, Dr. Pandya, told IANS. "Just being with her was great fun. Kalpana Chawla had a lot of different interests. One of the interests was in Indian music. And they both used to listen to Indian classical music together."


Her dog "Gorby," a Jack Russell Terrier, is named after the former Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Items she took on the space shuttle Discovery included a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a small statue of Lord Ganesh and some samosas.

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