The Out-of-This-World Cup

Astronauts on the International Space Station play a gravity-defying soccer game.

Whether you call them footballs or soccer balls, they are spherical little feats of engineering—globes designed to work both with and against the forces of nature. But soccer balls are also designed, of course, for working with one particular force: gravity. In the video above, NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman and Steve Swanson, along with the European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, of Germany, show us what happens when soccer is played without the luxury, or the impediment, of gravity. 

In the process, they raise a very important existential question: If you play a game of soccer in space, ARE YOU STILL PLAYING SOCCER? 

Regardless. It's great to see the ball whirling around the Space Station, and it's nice to celebrate what the World Cup is meant to represent. "Have fun and have peaceful games," Gerst says in the video. "May the best win." Then again, it's worth noting that only three of the ISS's six residents are participating in this (Out of This) World Cup. There are, after all, three other guys living on the Station right now: Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Artemyev, and Maxim Suraev—yep, Russian cosmonauts. The political tensions between the U.S. and Russia have recently stretched into space. And onto, it seems, the three-dimensional soccer field that is the International—but not quite international—Space Station. 

Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Technology

Just In