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Our future couldn’t be brighter: Sunita Williams on US sending Indian to space

Mangalore Today News Network

New Delhi, July 11, 2024: Indian-origin Sunita Williams has said she is looking forward to meeting the Indian astronauts who will fly to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is working on a joint project with the US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to send an Indian astronaut to space. Of the four astronauts that India had chosen, two will be sent to NASA for training, and one of them will be selected for the space mission, ISRO chief Dr S Somanath told NDTV last month.

Sunitha Williams

The two space agencies have also collaborated for NISAR (NASA ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar), a joint Earth-observation mission.

"India and the US have had much success working together to explore the stars. And our future together could not be brighter," Sunita Williams said in her video message to the US embassy in Delhi on America’s Independence Day from the ISS, which orbits some 400 kilometers above Earth.

She is currently stuck on the ISS due to a problem-plagued Boeing Starliner for almost a month.

"NASA and the ISRO continue to work toward the launch of NISAR, which will launch from India this year to measure changes in our planet’s surface," she said.

"After returning to Earth, we look forward to meeting Indian astronauts training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Our partnership with India and the countries around the world will help expand humanity’s reach for the sky," Williams added.

She was joined by her fellow astronauts Tracy C Dyson and Jeanette J Epps.

NASA To Train 2 Indians, Send One Of Them To Space

The ISRO’s work to send an astronaut to space in a joint project with NASA is going on as scheduled, the Indian space agency’s chief Dr S Somanath told NDTV in an exclusive interview on June 29.

Of the four astronauts that India had chosen, two will be sent to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for training, and one of them will be selected for the space mission, he said.

"Similarly, the other two will also get training of a different kind... So all four of them will go through certain levels of training through this programme. Many engineers will also be trained by NASA to handle other aspects of space flight," Dr Somanath said.

He said the ISRO’s eventual goal is human space flight, and the learnings from the whole programme with NASA will feed into the Indian space agency’s experience in finally sending humans to space.

"When we get the capability, if a head of state wants to fly to space, for example, it must be on our vehicle, from our land. I will wait for our Gaganyaan to be ready, to be proven, to be qualified to do that," the ISRO chief told NDTV when asked whether key leaders would be eligible to fly to space in the far future.

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