Sunita to speak at Intl Astronautical Congress

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New Delhi, Sep 23: After sharing her experience with the students of Gujarat, Indian-origin American astronaut Sunita Williams will speak at the 58th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), which is starting tomorrow in Hyderabad. The 58th Session of the IAC, with theme "Touching Humanity: Space for Improving quality of life", is being hosted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Astronautical Society of India (ASI) which will last til September 28.

Williams" visit to India may become an annual affair, as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has requested her to give time to the state for at least three to four weeks every year.

“I would ask her to come to the state regularly and meet students and guide them with her knowledge," said Modi while felicitating her yesterday.

Williams, who arrived in Gujarat on September 20 for the first time after her successful expedition aboard space shuttle Discovery, said that India is a special place.

"I challenge you to bring your special things to the table; you have a lot to offer. India, it's really a wonderful place," she said.

The student community definitely appeared fired up after interacting with Williams.

"After interacting with Williams, we have learnt a lot," Mansi, a student, said.

Williams became famous across the country during her six-month stay on the International Space Station beginning last December -- the longest ever for a female astronaut.

She is a graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy and was appointed to serve as a backup crew for the International Space Station Expedition 10.

Before migrating to the US, Williams' father was a practicing doctor in Gujarat"s Junagarh. Williams was born in 1965 in Ohio, and is now married and lives in Massachusetts.

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