Sunita shares space experiences with President Patil

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New Delhi, Oct 4 (UNI) It was a meeting between two women icons -- one has conquered the space above the Planet Earth; the other has found an exalted place for herself in the male-dominated Indian political system.

Both Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams and President Pratibha Patil have conquered odds and challenges to go down in history.

On a visit to India, Sunita, who spent a record nearly seven months in space aboard an American space shuttle, said she ''was never fearful while coming back to earth''.

She revealed it during a 45-minute interaction with Mrs Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.

Her return from the space was delayed because of some technical snags in her spacecraft as also due to inclement weather conditions.

''Were you ever fearful during your return to the Earth?'' asked the President.

''I was never fearful because I knew the people on Earth were praying for my safety and my safe return,'' replied Sunita.

The President had apparently a number of queries for the woman astronaut.

''How beautiful did the Earth look from the space?'' Pat came the reply. ''Beautiful! One does not see borders from there.'' To which the President added, ''Borders are man-made.'' Mrs Patil paid tributes to the astronaut by saying that her feat of space travel was heroic and woul inspire the younger generation.

Sunita remarked that ''children are our future and they should be geared up to take up challenges.'' Both agreed that scientists shoulkd work together for space exploration for peaceful purposes.

Recounting her early days in space, she said those were full of difficulties and she had to pay a lot of attention to her body movement in weightless conditions. ''I spent a lot of spare time looking at the Earth through binoculars,'' she added.

She also said she was honoured by the reception wherever she went in India.

Finally, the President had remembered that Sunita had taken a box full of 'samosas' with her in space.

''I know you have taken samosas during your space journey.

Keeping that in mind, we have included the delicacy in the menu for you,'' Ms Patil said, much to the liking of Sunita.

During her six-day stay in the national capital, she met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and also interacted with school children.

UNI

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