Monday, May 20, 2024

Sunita Williams’ Third Space Mission Postponed Due to Technical Glitch

Sunita Williams’ highly anticipated third space mission faced an unexpected setback when the launch of Boeing Starliner, scheduled to carry her to space, was called off due to a technical issue just hours before lift-off.

The Boeing Starliner, intended to take astronaut Sunita Williams on her third journey into space, encountered a delay as its launch was postponed due to a technical glitch. The spacecraft was set to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida’s Cape Canaveral at 8.04 am India time, with Sunita Williams and NASA’s Barry Wilmore on board, heading to the International Space Station.

However, just 90 minutes before the scheduled lift-off, the launch of the Atlas V rocket was halted due to an off-nominal condition on an oxygen relief valve. This postponement was announced by the US space agency NASA. Both Sunita Williams and Barry Wilmore exited the spacecraft safely.

This mission was poised to make history as Sunita Williams would have become the first woman to fly on a maiden crewed mission of a new space shuttle. With 322 days already spent in space, Sunita Williams was geared up for her third space voyage. She previously held the record for the maximum hours of spacewalk by a woman, before being surpassed by Peggy Whitson.

Sunita Williams’ first space voyage was from December 9, 2006, to June 22, 2007. During this time, she set a world record for women by completing four spacewalks totaling 29 hours and 17 minutes. The 59-year-old astronaut expressed her enthusiasm ahead of the mission, stating that flying in a new spacecraft didn’t make her jittery, having been involved in the Starliner’s design process.

In preparation for the journey, Sunita Williams expressed her intention to carry an idol of Lord Ganesh, considering it her “good luck charm”. Previously, she had carried a copy of the Bhagwad Gita. Known for her athleticism, she even completed a triathlon in space, competing with athletes back in the US.

The postponed 10-day mission was intended to help the Starliner establish its space-worthiness and prove the team’s readiness to achieve NASA certification, enabling long-duration missions for the US space agency.

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