Right now, 250 miles above our heads, a 150 billion dollar portable laboratory is orbiting the Earth at 17,239 miles an hour. Behind the controls is a 47-year old Indian-Slovenian-American woman, a former Navy test pilot by the name of Sunita Pandya Krishna Williams.
Today (9/20) is her birthday.
Captain Williams flew missions in Operation Desert Shield. She piloted Super Cobras, Black Hawks, Kiowas, and many other attack helicopters with equally menacing names. She has logged 3,000 flight hours in more than 30 different aircraft.
She likes to fly.
A graduate of the Naval Academy, she was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Saipan when she learned she’d been accepted into the Space Program. NASA wanted Captain Sunita Williams to become the second woman to sit in the Commander’s seat on their most expensive, most advanced and last, best experiment – the International Space Station, known as the I.S.S.
Mission 32 is the third time she has visited the Space Station. She has walked in space for more than 44 hours.
On her last space adventure, Captain Williams ran a simulated Boston Marathon, running on a treadmill, orbiting the Earth as her sister ran the actual race, down in Boston. Sunita finished in four hours and 24 minutes.
My sister and I are competetive that way, too. "Hey!" she'll shout into her phone. "How many donuts can you eat?" Turns out, when it comes to those little chocolate covered Entemann's, I rule. Too bad, Sis. Even if I was in space, I could eat more donuts than you.
Today, on Commander WIlliams' 47th birthday, after flying a 150 billion dollar double wide space trailer round and round the Earth at 17,239 miles an hour, she will probably finish writing the last of her 19-volume history of blues guitarists, then bake her own cake in space, using flour she ground from wheat she grew, before simutaneously beating three chess masters via the internet while earning a blackbelt in Judo.
She’s that annoyingly great.
I could watch her accomplish things all day, or, at least, read about it. I love the story of Sunita Williams, because it reassures me that overachievers still exist.
For all of us who were “C” students, that’s a good thing.
Somebody has to balance out the rest of us.
Happy birthday, Commander Williams. Do me a favor, would you? Eat a donut. Then, get back to doing what you do best, which is doing what you do best.