Sunita Williams embarks on her third space mission

Williams also made history as the first woman to take on such a task
Sunita Williams embarks on her third space mission

Sunita Williams, an Indian-origin astronaut, ascended to space for the third time on Wednesday with a colleague, making history as the first people to board Boeing's Starliner spaceship for a 25-hour journey to the International Space Station. After repeated delays, Boeing's Crew Flight Test mission, which included Williams and Butch Wilmore, blasted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Williams, 58, will pilot the flying test, with Wilmore, 61, serving as mission commander. Boeing announced that the launch marked the beginning of the NASA-Boeing Starliner Crew Flight Test (CFT). 

"This crew flight test represents the beginning of a new era of space exploration as we watch astronauts Wilmore and Williams put Boeing's Starliner through its paces on the way to the International Space Station," said Ted Colbert, President and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. "This is a terrific beginning. We are looking forward to safely transporting the astronauts to the space station and returning them home," Colbert stated in a press release. Wilmore and Williams were also the first to launch on an Atlas V rocket and are currently experiencing microgravity on their journey to the space station. They will complete a number of flight test objectives, including manually flying the Starliner.

Starliner, together with its two crew members, is hauling approximately 760 pounds (345 kilogrammes) of cargo.Wilmore and Williams will spend about a week on the International Space Station before returning to Earth. Following a successful CFT, Boeing and NASA will continue to work on certifying Starliner for long-duration operating missions to the International Space Station.Williams also made history as the first woman to undertake such a mission. And it will not be her first historical entrance. Williams became the first person to complete a triathlon in space in 2012, during a previous journey to the International Space Station, when she simulated swimming with a weight-lifting machine and ran on a treadmill while locked in by a harness so she wouldn't drift away. 

That came when she completed the Boston Marathon from the International Space Station in 2007.Williams was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy from the United States Naval Academy in May 1987. NASA chose Williams as an astronaut in 1998, and he has completed two space missions: Expeditions 14/15 in 2006 and 32/33 in 2012.She was a flight engineer on Expedition 32 before taking leadership of Expedition 33. Boeing's Crew Flight Test mission has been delayed for several years due to technical difficulties with the spacecraft's development.Saturday's launch attempt for Boeing's first astronaut flight was canceled due to last-minute computer problems, the latest in a long run of delays. This was the second launch attempt.

The initial attempt on May 6 was delayed due to leak checks and rocket maintenance. With the launch, Boeing joined Elon Musk's SpaceX as the second commercial company capable of providing personnel transport to and from the International Space Station.