Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams flies to space for a third time

Astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore ahead of an inaugural crewed test flight of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore ahead of an inaugural crewed test flight of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Houston | Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams flew to space for the third time on Wednesday along with a colleague, scripting history as the first members aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Boeing’s Crew Flight Test mission carrying Williams, and Butch Wilmore lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida after multiple delays.

Williams, 58, is the pilot for the flight test while Wilmore, 61, is the commander of the mission.

Williams also made history as the first woman to embark on such a mission. And it won’t be her first entry in the history books.

In 2012, during a prior trip to the International Space Station, Williams became the first person to finish a triathlon in space, during which she simulated swimming using a weight-lifting machine and ran on a treadmill while strapped in by a harness so she wouldn’t float away.

That came after she ran the Boston Marathon from the space station in 2007.

Williams received her commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy from the United States Naval Academy in May 1987. Williams was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1998 and is a veteran of two space missions, Expeditions 14/15 in 2006 and 32/33 and 2012.

She served as a flight engineer on Expedition 32 and then commander of Expedition 33.

Boeing’s Crew Flight Test mission has been delayed for several years because of setbacks in the spacecraft's development.

Last-minute computer trouble nixed Saturday's launch attempt for Boeing's first astronaut flight, the latest in a string of delays over the years.

It was the second launch attempt. The first try on May 6 was delayed for leak checks and rocket repairs

With the launch, Boeing became the second private firm able to provide crew transport to and from the ISS, alongside Elon Musk's SpaceX.

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