HomeAsian AmericansLIVE from space: the first woman, Asian American to pilot test flight

LIVE from space: the first woman, Asian American to pilot test flight

by Matthew Yoshimoto

Looking out the spacecraft’s windows at the planet below, NASA astronaut Sunita (Suni) L. Williams gained a deeper appreciation of the fact that Earth is all humans have. The view prompted a thought-provoking yet seemingly simple realization: “It’s a little crazy that we all don’t get along.”

Williams, who was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1998, is currently serving as the pilot of the Crew Flight Test mission for Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. She is the first woman, the first Asian American and the first Indian American to pilot a spacecraft test flight in NASA history.

Last Monday, Williams shared insights from the mission during a live conversation from the International Space Station, alongside mission commander Barry (Butch) E. Wilmore. 

“It’s just an honor to be here,” Williams said in her opening remarks. “We have huge shoulders that we stand on – the people that came before us just paved the way. We’re honored and lucky to be here as a little piece of the cog in the wheel that has made this possible for us to be part of this team.”

Williams also acknowledged that she could be shattering the glass ceiling.

“We are very blessed and lucky to live in the United States of America. We have these opportunities that can be given to anybody. It really doesn’t, again, matter where you come from, what you look like, what your ethnicity is, what your religion is, in our country, these opportunities are out there, and you can take them if you want them,” Williams said during the conversation. “I challenge people to just get out there and do it, and don’t let anybody else tell you no.”

Chirag Parikh, the Deputy Assistant to President Biden and Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, who led the live conversation, expressed his appreciation for Williams serving as a source of inspiration for his 3-year-old daughter: “It’s awesome to know that she has to grow up in a world that has someone like you as a role model along the way.”

Wilmore described feeling honored to share the spotlight with Williams and the “unique position” she is in. He shared his admiration of Williams and her capability.

“When we sit in that capsule, side by side, where we come from, what we look like, how long our hair is, how short our hair is, none of that matters. All that matters is knowing your spacecraft absolutely in an integrated fashion as best as you possibly can so you can deal with any and all contingencies,” Wilmore said during the conversation. 

Williams discussed the importance of the Crew Flight Test mission for Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, sharing that it allows for two unique route systems to the International Space Station and lower Earth orbit. She added the mission can foster excitement and intrigue among students of all ages. 

Sharing that putting people in space is a “miracle,” Williams expressed her awe at the human capability to understand complex concepts such as people centuries earlier knowing that Earth is round, without ever having the chance to see it from space. This made her realize that numerous potential discoveries humans are to discover if they properly tap into their minds. 

Williams also shared her fascination with the human body being able to adapt to varying levels of gravity on Earth versus in space. To help their bodies adjust and allow them to walk normally after landing, she said they have exercise equipment that they use regularly. 

Having launched on June 5, Williams and Wimore are planned to return from the International Space Station in about a week from the time of publication.

“Life on Earth is really the best thing ever, and we’ll be happy to go back home when it’s our time to go back home,” Williams said to conclude the live conversation. 

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Worth the Time

Must Read

Regular Features


Discover more from AsAmNews

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading