Sunita Williams breaks into impromptu dance as she enters ISS on her third space trip


Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams broke into an impromptu dance as she entered the International Space Station and received the ‘Bell Rings’ welcome along with her colleague Butch Wilmore according to US Naval tradition. Williams, 58, flew to space for the third time on Wednesday along with Wilmore, 61, scripting history as the first members aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). Williams is the pilot for the flight test while Wilmore is the commander of the mission. Williams received her commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy from the United States Naval Academy in May 1987 and was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1998.

The Expedition 71 crew greeted Williams and Willmore aboard the ISS after Starliner docked at approximately 11:04 pm IST on Friday, about 26 hours after launching from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (USA), a statement from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said.

A video of the moment shared by NASA on their social media handle showed Williams entering the ISS docking area first to the loud clapping from the Expedition 71 colleagues as one of them rang the metal bell, clinking of which could be heard over and above the celebratory cheers.

Wearing the blue overalls, her long hair all flowing upwards around her smiling face in the zero-gravity space station, Williams broke into a twist-like dance step immediately after she came out of the docking tunnel.

One of the crew from Expedition 71 rang the metal bell as she entered, as per a US Naval tradition of the ship’s bell announcing the presence of important persons. “As part of @USNavy tradition for captains boarding a ship @NASA_Astronauts Butch Wilmore and @Astro_Suni each received bell rings as they came aboard @Space_Station,” NASA posted on X. Notwithstanding her earlier two space missions, Expeditions 14/15 in 2006 and 32/33 and 2012, William’s celebratory impromptu dance, all of 3-seconds spectacle, drew widespread cheers from the crew aboard.

Suni, as she is popularly known in the space circles, then hugged the crew as seconds later Willmore too entered the small area, again to the loud cheer and Bell Rings.

Then the seven Expedition 71 crew members gathered with the two Crew Flight Test members for a team portrait aboard the space station. The seven already aboard were Oleg Kononenko (Russia), Alexander Grebenkin (Russia), Tracy C Dyson (USA), Mike Barratt (USA), Nikolai Chub (Russia), Jeanette Epps (USA), and Matthew Dominick (USA).

According to NASA, Williams shared her gratitude to the family and friends who have been with them during the lead-up to the launch.

“We have another family up here, which is just awesome,” Williams said. “And we’re just happy as can be to be up in space, one in Starliner on an Atlas V, and then here at the International Space Station. It just doesn’t get much better.”

Earlier, the Starliner spacecraft docked to the ISS after overcoming new issues that cropped up en route to the orbiting laboratory.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris praised Williams and Wilmore by saying they represent “America’s leadership into the cosmos.”

As the Starliner took off, she posted on X: “Starliner is on its way – congratulations to the team. Today’s launch marks an important milestone for the future of human spaceflight. Butch and Suni, you represent America’s leadership into the cosmos and make us proud. Safe travels on your mission.”

After spending about a week in orbit, Wilmore and Williams will board the Starliner and return home.

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