Meet Tim Shank and Suni Williams
Sunita Williams, Commander, U.S. Navy
Astronaut and Flight Engineer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Growing up in Needham, Massachusetts, Suni Williams didn’t think of herself as an astronaut. To her, space was The Jetsons and the Robinson family (“Lost in Space”). As she was finishing high school, she thought she wanted to be a veterinarian; then during her college studies at the U.S. Naval Academy, she thought she'd be a Navy diver. Then she wanted to be a jet pilot--Top Gun having recently hit the silver screen. Eventually she settled on helicopter pilot, “the second best view of the Earth,” she says.
Suni claims she didn’t know anything about being an astronaut...until one day she did. Williams had become a test pilot when she was sent to NASA’s Johnson Space Center and heard a talk by former astronaut John Young.
“He talked to us about landing on the Moon, and told us that they had to learn how to fly helicopters to do the lunar landing,” Suni recalls. “So that was the first time I really thought: Maybe we’ll go back to the moon. Up until then, I never really considered being an astronaut.”
Nearly ten years later, Suni is now making her first trip into space a long one. She has logged more than 2770 flight hours in more than 30 different aircraft, but nothing compares with the six months she is now spending 200 miles above her home.
Read more about Tim and Suni:
» Biographical Data on Commander Sunita Williams
» Tim Shank's laboratory group at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
» As Chance Would Have It: A Profile of Astronaut Suni Williams
» NOAA Explorer profile of Tim Shank
» An interview with Tim Shank for Dive and Discover
Last updated: July 2, 2012