“Ground control to Major Gronk,” some Patriots players harmoniously bellowed as they walked by tight end Rob Gronkowski in the locker room on Thursday.
The teasing song was referring to Gronk, Zoltan Mesko and Patriots owner Robert Kraft skyping with an astronaut from the United States Space Station. But the woman on the other end was more than just your everyday astronaut — if there is such a thing.
Sunita Williams, 47, of Needham, Mass. was the spacewalker on the line with some of her favorite Patriots. The video player wasn’t working in the Patriots locker room, so Williams could see the Patriots but they were unable to get a shot of her on the iPad. But even that couldn’t stop the chat, as Kraft and the players resorted to a telephone to continue the conversation.
The lifelong Pats fan exchanged pleasantries with Kraft and swapped stories about her hometown of Euclid, Ohio with Mesko, a fellow Euclid native. She even answered some profound questions from Gronk, including “are you floating right now?”
The conversation was full of laughter, excitement — from both Williams and the Patriots — and some good football talk. Aside from being a huge Patriots fan, though, Williams is also a decorated astronaut.
During a mission back in 2007, she set a then-record for longest spacewalk by a woman, totaling 29 hours and 17 minutes over the course of four walks. She does still hold the record for most days in space by a woman, lasting 195 days during that 2007 trip.
This time around, Williams, who launched on July 14 and is set to return later in November, was going up for a shorter trip but an elongated stay nonetheless.
That was definitely a unique experience for Kraft, Gronk and Mesko — likewise for anyone able to witness such an unusual yet awesome occurrence. But Williams was equally excited at the opportunity, and after nearly five months in space it’s likely just what she needed to bring her back to Earth. Even if only figuratively.