Sunita Williams : biography
Sunita Lyn "Suni" Williams née Pandya (born September 19, 1965) is a former American astronaut and a United States Navy officer with paternal Indian and maternal Slovene roots. She holds the records for longest single space flight by a woman (195 days), total spacewalks by a woman (seven), and most spacewalk time for a woman (50 hours, 40 minutes).
Williams was assigned to the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 14 and Expedition 15. In 2012, she served as a flight engineer on Expedition 32 and then commander of Expedition 33.
2007 visit to India
In September 2007, Williams visited India. She went to the Sabarmati Ashram, the ashram set up by Mahatma Gandhi in 1915, and her ancestral village Jhulasan in Gujarat. She was awarded the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Vishwa Pratibha Award by the World Gujarati Society, the first person of Indian descent who was not an Indian citizen to be presented the award. On October 4, 2007, Williams spoke at the American Embassy School, and then met Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India.
File:Suni_Williams_with_a_student_at_delhi.jpg|Williams at the Nehru Memorial in Delhi File:Sunita Lyn Williams and Manmohan Singh and Mrs Gursharan Kaur.jpg|Williams with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh File:Sunita Lyn Williams - Science City - Kolkata 2013-04-02 7515.JPG|April 2013 in Science City Kolkata
Williams was commissioned an ensign in the United States Navy in May 1987. After a six-month temporary assignment at the Naval Coastal System Command, she was designated a Basic Diving Officer. She next reported to the Naval Air Training Command, where she was designated a Naval Aviator in July 1989. She received initial H-46 Sea Knight training in Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 3 (HC-3), and was then assigned to Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 8 (HS-8) in Norfolk, Virginia, with which she made overseas deployments to the Mediterranean, Red Sea and the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Provide Comfort. In September 1992, she was the Officer-in-Charge of an H-46 detachment sent to Miami, Florida, for Hurricane Andrew relief operations aboard the USS Sylvania. In January 1993, Williams began training at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. She graduated in December, and was assigned to the Rotary Wing Aircraft Test Directorate as an H-46 Project Officer and V-22 chase pilot in the T-2. Later, she was assigned as the squadron Safety Officer and flew test flights in the SH-60B/F, UH-1, AH-1W, SH-2, VH-3, H-46, CH-53 and the H-57. In December 1995, she went back to the Naval Test Pilot School as an instructor in the Rotary Wing Department and as the school's Safety Officer. There she flew the UH-60, OH-6 and the OH-58. She then went to the USS Saipan as the Aircraft Handler and the Assistant Air Boss. Williams was deployed on the Saipan in June 1998 when she was selected by NASA for the astronaut program.
She has logged more than 3,000 flight hours in more than 30 aircraft types.
Ancestry and early life
Sunita Williams was born in Euclid, Ohio, to Indian American neuroanatomist Deepak Pandya and Slovene American Ursuline Bonnie Pandya (née Zalokar), who have three children and reside in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Sunita is the youngest of three siblings, her brother Jay Thomas is four years older and her sister Dina Anna is three years older.
Williams’ paternal ancestry is from Mehsana district in Gujarat, India, while her maternal great grandmother Mary Bohinc (originally Marija Bohinjec), born 5 September 1890 in Leše, immigrated to America as eleven years old girl with her mother, an 1891 Slovene emigrant Ursula Bohinc née Strajhar., Delo, March 26, 2013, The Times of India, March 31, 2013
Williams graduated from Needham High School in Needham, Massachusetts, in 1983. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical science from the United States Naval Academy in 1987, and a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management from Florida Institute of Technology in 1995.
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