July 21, 2007

Sunita 'forgot' to walk in space

She says a bowl of tomato soup is the best thing you can have before you embark on your journey into space.

It is smooth and comes up easily during the time that the human body is adjusting to weightlessness. With six months in micro-gravity on the international space station, NASA astronaut Flt engineer Sunita Williams should know.

A month after her return from the record-breaking space-sojurn, Ms Williams spoke to Indian scientists, students and the media via video conference from Johnson Space Centre in Houston about space diets and a variety of other subjects.

Ms Williams trained for the mission for eight years before she boarded the Atlantis in December last year. “It takes about 24 hours to adjust...the human body is remarkable and is able to adjust to a variety of things,” she said.

Somewhere during the middle of her stay in space, she felt she had forgotten how to walk because of the time spent in reduced gravity. Flying from one place to the other within the space station, she learnt to use her feet `like a monkey’ to grasp on to the hand-rails around, she says.

“The bird like movements forward made me wonder if my neck was growing,” she added. Over a period, the whole frame of reference begins to change because there is no up and no down.

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