This Sunday Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams took off for her second space voyage. Back home on earth her father, Deepak Pandya, the renowned 80-year-old neuroanatomist, is not that worried this time.
Williams is a 46-year old Naval officer of Indian and Slovenian origins. Along with her two team members, flight engineers Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, William took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to join the Expedition 32 crew aboard the International Space Station coming Tuesday.
Williams embarked upon her first space journey in 2007 and then her father was anxious. This time he says, “Sunita is used to life in a space station.”
He adds, “This time she will be involved in experiments dealing with survival of long-duration flights for distant space travel.”
Pandya is referring to the two month long work of both groups of astronauts together in which they are expected to conduct over 30 scientific missions with about 240 experiments during their stay aboard the ISS.
The experiments conducted by the astronauts would involve a diverse range and fields they would be dealing with includes healthcare, nanotechnology, Earth science, Chemistry, space travel, humans in space, space exploration and sundry others.
Williams and her two fellow astronomers would be joining three Russian astronauts who have been in orbit since May. After two months of work, the Russian group would return to earth while Williams’ group would enter earth in November.
Williams holds three records for a female space traveler – longest spaceflight (195 days), number of spacewalks (four) and total time spent on spacewalks (29 hours and 17 minutes).
Williams is a flight engineer on the station’s Expedition 32 crew and will take over as commander of Expedition 33 on reaching the space station.
It was recently reported that Williams, married to US police officer Michael J Williams for more than 20 years, is considering adoption. The couple were reported to be thinking about adopting a child from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, from where her father hails.
When asked to confirm this news, Pandya said, “She has been thinking to adopt a child for some time. But first, she has to accomplish her present mission.”
Deepak Pandya is a Boston resident and has taught at Boston University and at the Harvard University School of Medicine. He is a physician who has practiced medicine for several years.
The spry 80-year-old says about his work, “My research work deals with outlining the connections of the brain. I have worked on monkey brain because monkey brain resembles the human brain. Lately, with newer imaging techniques we have been exploring the connections in the human brain. Our research aims at finding the mechanisms behind the brain function and understanding the disease process.”