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Hours before liftoff, Sunita Williams' third space mission scrapped

On this occasion, Sunita Williams was poised to create history by becoming the inaugural woman to embark on a crewed maiden voyage of a new space shuttle.

Written by  Annesha Barua -- May 07th 2024 08:43 AM
Hours before liftoff, Sunita Williams' third space mission scrapped

Hours before liftoff, Sunita Williams' third space mission scrapped

PTC News Desk: In what was poised to be a groundbreaking moment, Sunita Williams' much-awaited journey to space, marking her third mission, has been abruptly halted due to a technical snag in the launch vehicle, Boeing Starliner.

Scheduled to make history as the first woman to embark on a maiden crewed mission of a new space shuttle, Williams faced disappointment as the launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida's Cape Canaveral was called off just 90 minutes before liftoff.

The launch delay was attributed to an off-nominal condition detected in an oxygen relief valve of the Atlas V rocket, prompting NASA to postpone the mission indefinitely. Alongside Williams, NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore, designated to accompany her on the voyage to the International Space Station, safely disembarked from the spacecraft following the announcement.

For Williams, a trailblazer in space exploration, this mission held significant promise. With two prior space expeditions and a remarkable record of 322 days spent in space, she was poised to rewrite history by becoming the first woman to participate in the inaugural crewed flight of a new space shuttle.

Having embarked on her first space voyage from December 9, 2006, to June 22, 2007, Williams established herself as a pioneer, completing four spacewalks totaling 29 hours and 17 minutes, setting a world record for women. Her subsequent mission, spanning from July 14 to November 18, 2012, further solidified her legacy in space exploration.

Despite the setback, Williams remained resolute, expressing confidence in the safety of the new spacecraft. Having contributed to the design of the Starliner alongside NASA and Boeing engineers, she regarded the International Space Station as a familiar territory, akin to home.

Ahead of the mission, Williams revealed her intention to carry an idol of Lord Ganesh, her "good luck charm," underscoring her spiritual connection to her endeavours. Known for her athleticism, she even completed a triathlon in space, showcasing her resilience and determination.

The mission, spanning 10 days, was poised not only to validate the Starliner's capabilities but also to demonstrate the team's preparedness for NASA certification and long-duration missions. While the delay is undoubtedly disappointing, the anticipation remains high for Williams' eventual journey to the stars, where she continues to inspire generations with her pioneering spirit and unwavering dedication to exploration.

- With inputs from agencies

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