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Needham Astronaut Sees Hurricane Sandy From Space

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Hurricane Sandy off the east coast on October 29, 2012. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

Hurricane Sandy off the east coast on October 29, 2012. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (CBS/AP) — The superstorm that ravaged the East Coast was enormous, even when seen from space.

Astronaut Sunita Williams, commander of the International Space Station, said Tuesday that she and her crew were able to make out the big swirl at the center of Sandy as it neared land Monday. The cloud cover stretched from the Atlantic almost all the way to Chicago.

sunita williams Needham Astronaut Sees Hurricane Sandy From Space

Astronaut Sunita Williams (file image)

Her parents live in Falmouth, Mass., and she’s keeping a special watch over what’s happening on the Eastern Seaboard.

“It’s pretty huge,” Williams, a Needham native, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I hope everybody down there is safe and sound.”

As for the other big news — the U.S. presidential election — Williams and the one other American on board, Kevin Ford, already have cast their votes. The two filed absentee ballots before riding Russian rockets to orbit from Kazakhstan.

“We’ll see if we picked the right candidate,” Williams said with a laugh.

Ford, a Texas resident and retired Air Force colonel, arrived at the space station just last week. Williams, on board since July, will return to Earth right before Thanksgiving. Ever since her Naval flight school days, she’s voted as a Florida resident. She’s an active-duty Navy captain.

Williams has lots to squeeze in between now and her departure on Nov. 19.

The six space station residents — two Americans, three Russians and one Japanese — expect to get a special Halloween visitor. A Russian supply ship is scheduled to blast off from Kazakhstan Wednesday morning and, in an unusually short transit, arrive at the orbiting lab several hours later.

“Hopefully, they’ll be bringing lots of treats,” Williams said.

She’s challenged her crewmates to scrounge up costumes. Even her stuffed toy dog on board will dress up — as Dracula. The toy is a smaller version of her real Jack Russell terrier back home, Gorby.

And Thursday, Williams will continue her streak as the world’s most experienced spacewalking woman. She and a crewmate will venture out on a spacewalk to find and repair an ammonia coolant leak.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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