Bhagavad Gita, Lord Ganesha took care of me in space: Sunita Williams

via IANS published on July 21, 2007

New Delhi: Back from her record-making 195-day space odyssey, Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams said Friday the Bhagavad Gita and Lord Ganesha took care of her during the journey and said she will come to India this year to share her experiences.

“My father gave me a copy of the Bhagavad Gita and an idol of Lord Ganesha to take them along with me to space and they took care of me in the sky,” Williams said through video conferencing from the Johnson Space Centre in the US.

“My father is a Hindu and mother a Catholic. I am close to both religions. I have read the Gita earlier and Lord Ganesha was looking after me above,” she said, interacting with Indian scientists, journalists and school students gathered at the four American Centres in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.

Williams returned to earth June 23 after a 195-day space odyssey, the longest ever by a woman astronaut. On June 16, she surpassed US astronaut Shannon Lucid’s 188-day 4-hour mark set on a mission to the Russian Mir space station in 1996.

With four excursions in space spread over 29 hours and 17 minutes, she also topped Kathy Thornton’s 21-hour record to become the world’s most experienced woman space walker.

Sporting a red T Shirt and her hair trimmed, a smiling Williams thanked every single Indian for praying for her safe return.

“Thanks to my family in Gujarat, Gujaratis and thanks to everyone in India for showing interest in me and praying for my safe return.

“I am coming to India later this year and would like to share my experience with as many people as possible. I will visit my cousins in Gujarat and friends in Delhi and do many more things,” she said.

Speaking about her time in space, she said: “It’s a beautiful and most peaceful place. By looking down, we saw the beautiful world… you see crystal clear stars.”

She said her space journey helped her understand and realise the value of international cooperation. The International space station where she spent six months, is a collaboration of 16 countries.

When asked if she would now like to go to the moon or Mars, she promptly replied: “both”.

“I would like to go to the moon for its breathtaking view and possibly with the technology available, I can go there.

“Mars is a great place to explore and as an astronaut I would love to go to a different planet.”

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