NASA Astronaut Sunita Williams shared her experience in space on the Live Webinar, Our Place In Space hosted by Srijan Pal Singh, CEO, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Centre on 19th July, 2020. The live webinar was attended by around 1.75 lakh viewers with #AskSunitaWilliams on trend.
In the interactive session, she shared that she initially wanted to be veterinarian, but did not receive acceptance from the universities she had applied for. “One could think of that my life was not going the way I wanted it to, but somehow that opened the door to going to Test Pilot School, which opened the door to becoming…an astronaut,” said Sunita Williams as she talked about her journey of becoming an astronaut, and from thereon, she was introduced to NASA in 1998.
Soon after that, in 2003, she faced another setback, when her opportunity to go to the ISS was halted due to the Columbia accident that led to the demise of Kalpana Chawla. However, she never gave up and continued to train and in 2006, she finally went to space.
Talking about space, she shared that despite the training, everything seemed like a dream in space. Looking back at Earth from space also generated a feeling of oneness, as there are no boundaries, just a planet, where all of us live together. She also shared that she carried Bhagavad Gita and Upanishad with her and in her leisure time she would draw or listen to music which brought back memories to her.
The interactive session was followed by a Q and A session where among many, an eight year old boy Manav, a student of Kalam Library, filled with dreams and hopes asked her a question.
The biggest take away from the live webinar was that one should not be afraid of changes, as they are the gateways to exploring new paths. As Srijan Pal Singh rightly said, “sometimes second choices are good…it is okay to not get your first choice all the time and that is a great lesson for all the kids who got their board results in India. Sometimes you don’t get what you wanted, but you get towards what you actually want in life.”