Boeing Starliner astronaut Sunita Williams previously brought samosas and cultural items into space with her

Sunita Williams, an Indian American NASA astronaut aboard the Boeing Starliner on Wednesday morning, has been known to bring items representing her culture with her to space.

Williams, 58, was part of the first crewed launch of the Starliner capsule to the International Space Station with fellow astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore. Williams, a veteran of two other space missions, previously told reporters that she brings some essentials including sacred texts Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita and, of course, samosas.

“I really appreciate my Indian heritage and was glad I could bring part of it with me to space,” Williams said during a 2013 news conference at the National Science Centre in Delhi, before referencing the elephant-headed Hindu god. “Ganesh has always been in my house. Everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve had Ganesh, and so he had to come with me to space, of course. And Indian food — you can never get enough of Indian food … so I had to make sure I had some samosas in space with me. Other types of Indian food we definitely had up there as well.”

Williams, whose father is Indian and mother is of Slovenian descent, has been open about the importance of her heritage. While on Expedition 32/33 in 2012, she also sent out a greeting from space during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

NASA selected Williams as an astronaut in 1998. She has spent a total of 322 days and performed seven space walks across her two extended missions in space. She once held the record for total cumulative space walk time by a female astronaut, but that has since been broken by Peggy Whitson.

The latest launch made Williams the first woman to test an orbital spacecraft. The historic test flight — the third attempt after repeated delays — could pave the way for routine flights between Boeing’s Starliner capsule and NASA. Bonnie Pandya, Williams’ mother, told NBC News hours before liftoff that her daughter was in good spirits and was “so happy about going.”

Minutes before the launch, Williams radioed a message back to mission control.

“Let’s go, Calypso,” she said, referring to the name of the Starliner capsule. “Take us to space and back.”

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