Sunita Williams Takes Command of the ISS, Completes a Triathlon in Space; What Have You Done This Week?
Today in Sunita Williams Is More Awesome Than You news: The Indian-American astronaut, already the holder of three records for female astronauts (number of space walks, total time spent on space walks and longest stretch spent in space), now has another record under her (space)belt: She’s completed the first-ever space triathlon, running, biking and swimming in Southern California’s Nautica Malibu Triathlon, albeit from 240 miles (in vertical distance) away in the International Space Station (ISS).
To participate in the triathlon Williams used special exercise equipment specially designed for the weightless environment of the ISS, swimming (well, the space version of swimming, which is doing weightlifting and resistance exercises on the somewhat intimidating-sounding Advanced Resistive Exercise Device) half a mile, biking 18 miles and running four miles in a grand total of one hour, 48 minutes and 33 seconds.
She began training for the triathlon before launching to the ISS last July, and she’s been training ever since—though part of that was the exercise required of all astronauts, whose muscles and bones would deteriorate if they spent all day twirling around in outer space like I know I’d want to do if I were ever an astronaut. Hell, I couldn’t finish a normal triathlon, nevermind a space one—granted, there may not be any difference in terms of difficulty, but adding “space” to the beginning of any physical activity just makes it sound harder, no? This isn’t her first major physical achievement (from space), either; in 2007 she completed the Boston marathon from an orbiting outpost in about four hours and 24 minutes.
As if that weren’t awesome enough, this week also saw Williams take over command of the ISS, becoming only the second female in history to do so. So it’s safe to say she’s had a good couple of days. And the icing on the cake: Today, September 19th, is her birthday. So happy birthday, Sunita Williams! I forgive you for making all us unaccomplished landlubbers feel really, really lazy.