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'It is pretty awesome to leave the planet'

December 05 2006
She had once hoped to check the temperature of pet animals for a living. Now Sunita Williams nee Pandya, astronaut of Indian origin, is in the final stages of preparing to travel into space on the space shuttle Discovery, December 7.

Williams, 41, who is part of a seven-member crew led by Commander Mark Polansky, was scheduled to lift off at 9:35 pm Eastern time on the STS-116 mission, a challenging flight intended to continue building the International Space Station.

"I am a little nervous, a little rushed, but I am really very excited. It is pretty awesome to actually think that you are going to leave this planet," Williams told India Abroad November 29, just a few hours before she was quarantined for the final stretch before the launch.

"It really fells like the end of a long road, lot of work and training," she addd.

"There is a lot coming in terms of specific tasks that we are going to perform up there and also in anticipation, I am trying to get my house cleaned and my life cleaned before I go up," Williams said, explaining her inability to talk for long.

Image: Astronaut Sunita Williams, Expedition 14 flight engineer, poses for a portrait following a STS-116 pre-flight press conference at Johnson Space Center. Williams will join Expedition 14 in progress and serve as a flight engineer after traveling to the station on space shuttle mission STS-116 in December.

Photographs courtesy: NASA
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