Samosas, Ganesh idol in Sunita William’s space kit

Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams takes a little part of India every time she goes to space.

“My father is from Gujarat and I first came to India when I was 10 years old. Lord Ganesha is an integral part of my house, so I took a Ganesha idol with me in space. I love Indian food and had also taken samosas with me,” Williams said during an interaction with students at the National Science Centre in Delhi.

The 47-year-old, who holds the record for the longest spacewalk by a woman astronaut, told students that “space feels like home now”.

“To look out of the window from the spacecraft is an exhilarating experience,” she said.

“What is even more spectacular is to see the roundness of the earth. This changes your perspective about yourself, about people around you,” Williams added.

Asked what she misses the most when away from earth, Williams said, “My dogs. My husband hates it when I say this.”

While she has seen “pretty much the whole of India” from space, there are places she still wants to visit: “I would like to travel to south and eastern coasts, perhaps even trek to the Himalayas.”

Having accomplished enough to go down in history, Williams also shared life lessons with girl students: “Glass ceilings are there only in the mind. To be successful, you just have to be competent and confident.”

Williams also said she would love to go to space again, but added: “It will be good to see a younger and newer breed of astronauts going on space trips. They are the next-generation explorers.”

Vanita Srivastava