Over 200 miles high above the Earth, Florida Tech alumna and astronaut, Sunita Williams, is conducting experiments on the International Space Station (ISS) as part of Expedition 32. She will stay on the ISS through Expedition 33, where she will take command!
Before earning her M.S. in engineering management from Florida Tech, she was flying a little closer to home as a Naval Aviator. Her career sent her overseas to support Operation Desert Storm and Operation Provide Comfort. Sunita also provided aid as part of Hurricane Andrew Relief Operations as the Officer-in-Charge.
Her career and achievements are truly remarkable:
• She currently holds the title for the longest spaceflight among women astronauts for her 195 days spent in orbit.
• She was the first astronaut to run a marathon in orbit. It occurred in conjunction with the 2007 Boston Marathon, which she completed in four hours and 24 minutes.
• She has logged over 3,000 flight hours in more than 30 aircraft.
• She received the Medal for Merit in Space Exploration from Russia in 2011.
• Sunita was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal.
• Sunita received a Navy Commendation Medal and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
• Spaceflights completed:
o STS-116 on Space Shuttle Discover as part of Expeditions 14 & 15
o STS-117 on Space Shuttle Atlantis– return to Earth
o Soyuz TMA-05M as part of Expeditions 32 & 33
• Sunita has completed four spacewalks that total over 29 hours. She will complete her fifth spacewalk on August 30, 2012.
• Her dog, Gorby, was featured on the television show “The Dog Whisperer.”
• She loves the Boston Red Sox and bow hunting.
• In 2002, she was a crew member on the NEEMO 2 mission, living underwater in the Aquarius habitat for 9 days.
• Sunita donated her hair to Locks of Love during STS-116. Fellow Panther grad, Joan Higginbotham, who was also on the mission, was the one who actually helped Sunita cut her hair.
• She appeared on the Colbert Report to announce the naming of the ISS’s node 3 as “Colbert”.
• Sunita is a licensed amateur radio operator with the call sign KD5PLB.
If you are interested on checking in on what Sunita is up to onboard the ISS, check out NASA’s Space Station Live site.