Houston: Indian American astronaut Sunita Williams is all set to join the Boston Marathon in space on Monday, where she will circle the earth at least twice running on a treadmill.
Williams, an accomplished marathoner, will be running as fast as eight mph during the 42.16km simulated run at 7:30pm, when the real event will be starting at Hopkinton, Massachusetts.
The Boston Athletic Association has issued bib number 14,000 for Sunita’s use electronically through NASA.
Williams hopes her unique run, where she will be flying more than five miles each second, will serve as an inspiration for young people to take up physical exercise.
“I encourage kids to start making physical fitness part of their daily lives,” Williams said. “I think a big goal like a marathon will help get this message out there.”
Sunita has been training for the marathon for months while serving a six-month stint as a flight engineer on board the International Space Station.
She qualified for the marathon when she ran a 3:29:57 in the Houston Marathon last year. Sunita’s biggest challenge running in space will be staying harnessed to a specially designed treadmill with bungee cords. Williams says running on the TVIS (Treadmill Vibration Isolation System) can sometimes be uncomfortable. The machinery puts a strain on the runner’s hips and shoulders.
Race organisers say this will be their first satellite venture, and they are thrilled about it.
Meanwhile, Sunita joins Expedition 15 from Expedition 14, while spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi leaves for home on 20 April with Expedition 14 commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin.