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“It’s about this…” – ISRO Chief’s Message for Sunita Williams

“We are all proud of Sunita Williams,” ISRO chief Dr. S. Somanath stated in an exclusive interview with NDTV. She has a tonne of missions under her belt. It takes courage to take a new spacecraft on its maiden flight.”

New Delhi: Dr. S. Somanath, the head of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), told NDTV in an exclusive interview that the delayed return of astronaut Sunita Williams, who is of Indian descent, from the International Space Station (ISS) shouldn’t be taken too seriously because the ISS is a secure facility with a long lifespan.

“It’s not just about Sunita Williams or any other astronaut,” the head of ISRO said to NDTV. We are not facing being trapped or stuck somewhere at this time. Not every one of the nine astronauts there is stranded.

“Everyone will eventually have to return,” he declared. The whole issue is about testing a new crew module called the Boeing Starliner, its ability to get there, and then safely return. Ground launch providers have sufficient capabilities to bring them back home. That is not an issue. The ISS is a safe place for people to stay for an extended period.”

“Today, as we develop spacecraft like the Starliner, the question should be whether it can work for round trips reliably,” Dr. Somnath stated. I believe the concerned agencies are thinking along these lines.”

They declared that Ms. Williams’ bravery makes ISRO very proud.

In the words of Dr. Somnath, “He has our collective pride.” He has completed a great deal of missions. Leading a brand-new spacecraft on its first flight requires courage.His ability to share his knowledge has made him an invaluable part of the design team. As we are developing a crew module as well, I can appreciate the kinds of conversations he had. We still have some experience, but his is far greater than ours. I’m praying for a calm homecoming for him so he can take what he learned and help build the spaceship.”

When questioned about whether ISRO will employ him as an advisor for the Indian space programme, Dr. Somanath replied that comments from the general public are always welcomed by the space agency.

“The space programme is ultimately for the entire humanity,” stated the head of ISRO. A country can construct a spaceship, but it will be used by humans. Who knows, tomorrow our spacecraft might go there for another nation’s rescue mission.”

Last week, NASA postponed the return of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft carrying astronauts back to Earth from the International Space Station to allow more time for technical reviews.

American astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Ms. Williams completed their final training flight on June 5 as part of NASA’s regular certification process.

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