Sunita Williams arrives in Delhi for six-day stay


New Delhi : After a red carpet welcome in Gujarat and rousing applause in Hyderabad, Indian American astronaut Sunita Williams arrived at the capital Saturday for a six-day stay.

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Warm smiles and camera flashes greeted her at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport from where she headed for the US embassy.

She is expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who had telephoned her last week and invited her to meet him. The 42-year-old astronaut is scheduled to interact with schoolchildren and participate in several programmes over the next six days.

“We are not sure about her itinerary today but she is definitely here till Thursday (Oct 4),” said Sudha Gandhi, an information officer of the US embassy.

“On Wednesday she is attending a programme and on Thursday she will be meeting school students,” Gandhi said.

Willams has set a world record this year by becoming the only woman astronaut to stay in space for a period of 195 days.

On Sep 20, she had arrived in Ahmedabad in Gujarat, the home state of her father. She went to Hyderabad Sep 24 to attend the International Astronautical Congress.

On Sep 21, Manmohan Singh had congratulated Williams for her “unique achievement” and contribution to the human quest for a “better understanding of our universe”.

The prime minister has termed her as a “role model for Indian children and a source of inspiration for Indian women”.

“India feels proud of her achievement, even though she is a citizen of the United States of America,” the prime minister had said.