Highlights from the History of Needham in 100 objects
Space Flag
Ink on polyester
Flag with the town seal of Needham, MA; blue ink on a white ground. Signed by Commander Sunita Williams: 27 Oct 07 ISS Exp 14/15.

This flag was carried aboard the International Space Station for six months by then Flight Engineer astronaut Commander Sunita Williams. The certificate that accompanies the flag gives some details of its extraordinary journey.

Called Suni for her sunny disposition, Sunita Pandya Williams was born in Ohio, but moved to Needham as a child and considers it her hometown. She was already interested in math and science when she attended the Hillside School, and excelled in those studies at Needham High School, where she graduated in the Class of 1983. She also studied Russian, never dreaming she would use the language later while working with a Russian crew in a space station.

After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Williams was selected for the United States Naval Test Pilot School. Being selected for the NASA astronaut program was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. After her two missions at the International Space Station, totaling 322 days, she is ranked sixth on the all-time US endurance list and second all-time for a female astronaut. She is ranked second for total cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut - 7 spacewalks totaling 50 hours and 40 minutes.

Before the flight the Historical Society received a call from Angela DiNapoli, Williams' 6th grade teacher. She reported that Williams was planning to take a Needham town flag into space. Back on earth after more than six months in space, Cdr. Williams signed and presented the flag to the Historical Society. We are very proud to have the flag displayed in this exhibit.
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