WATCH | Jubilant Sunita Williams breaks into impromptu dance as she enters ISS on her third space trip

The 58-year-old Williams, with 61-year-old Wilmore, flew to space on Wednesday. This was the duo's historic first crewed mission aboard Boeing's Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station, which makes Williams the pilot and Wilmore the mission commander.

Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams danced spontaneously upon entering the International Space Station (ISS), where she and her colleague Butch Wilmore were greeted with the traditional 'Bell Rings' welcome, in line with US Naval customs.

The 58-year-old Williams, with 61-year-old Wilmore, flew to space on Wednesday. This was the duo's historic first crewed mission aboard Boeing's Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station, which makes Williams the pilot and Wilmore the mission commander.

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Williams started her naval career as an Ensign from the United States Naval Academy in May 1987 and was selected as a NASA astronaut in 1998.

The Expedition 71 team  of the ISS welcomed Williams and Wilmore as the Starliner, piloted by Williams and commanded by Wilmore, docked at around 11:04 pm IST on Friday, about 26 hours after liftoff from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in the US. 

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Williams entered the ISS docking area amid applause from the Expedition 71 crew and the sound of a metal bell ringing, a traditional naval signal representing the arrival of distinguished persons. 
 

Video posted on social media by NASA showed Williams, wearing blue overalls with her hair floating around her face in zero gravity, performing a short, twist-like dance when she exited the docking tunnel. In keeping with the naval tradition, a crew member from Expedition 71 rang the bell as she entered.

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 “As part of @USNavy tradition for captains boarding a ship @NASAAstronauts Butch Wilmore and @AstroSuni each received bell rings as they came aboard @Space_Station,” NASA posted on X.

Despite her previous space missions, Expeditions 14/15 in 2006 and 32/33 in 2012, Williams' impromptu dance delighted the crew. Known as Suni in space circles, she embraced her colleagues, and moments later, Wilmore also entered to cheers and bell rings.

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The seven Expedition 71 crew members – Oleg Kononenko, Alexander Grebenkin, Tracy C Dyson, Mike Barratt, Nikolai Chub, Jeanette Epps, and Matthew Dominick – joined Williams and Wilmore for a team photo aboard the ISS.

Expressing her gratitude, Williams acknowledged the support from family and friends leading up to the launch. 

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“We have another family up here, which is just awesome,” Williams said. 

“And we’re just happy as can be to be up in space, one in Starliner on an Atlas V, and then here at the International Space Station. It just doesn’t get much better,” she added.

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The Starliner achieved docking with the ISS after overcoming a few hurdles on the way to the space station. 

Vice President Kamala Harris congratulated Williams and Wilmore for demonstrating U.S. leadership in space exploration.

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 “Starliner is on its way — congratulations to the team. Today’s launch marks an important milestone for the future of human spaceflight. Butch and Suni, you represent America’s leadership into the cosmos and make us proud. Safe travels on your mission.” she posted on X.

After a week in orbit, Wilmore and Williams are scheduled to return home aboard the Starliner.

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Read Also | Boeing's Starliner Launches with Sunita Williams Bound for the ISS

Read Also | Boeing's Starliner Set for NASA Astronaut Mission on May 10
 

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