Watching the World Cup from space

The Local Germany
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Watching the World Cup from space
Photo: NASA

Among the large portion of the Earth’s population expected to watch Sunday’s World Cup final, one pair of extra-terrestrial German eyes will be tracking the historic match from the heavens.


If there are no emergencies aboard the International Space Station (ISS), astronaut Alexander Gerst hopes his work load will allow him to cheer on the national team live as they face Argentina in the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
The 38-year-old astronaut from Baden-Württemberg already saw Germany beat the United States 1:0 last month from 400 kilometres above the Earth. 
And he also got to shave the heads of his US crewmates Steve Swanson and Reid Wiseman as part of a bet on the outcome, using a set of trimmers attached to a vacuum cleaner so the loose hair did not float away. (A German loss would have resulted in a Stars and Stripes flag being painted on Gerst’s already hairless head). 
Depending on the crew’s heavy schedule of maintenance and scientific experiments, ground controllers have relayed key games live to the ISS as it passes over the venues at a speed of 27,600 km/h. 
“Will fly over the stadium tonight, although I doubt anyone will be looking up. We'll be looking down in any case...” Gerst tweeted before Germany crushed the Brazilian favourites 7:1 in Belo Horizonte on July 8th.
But although the ISS circles the planet with the satellites that transmit the games, he is not assured of catching the main action on the ground. 
During a live press conference from the ISS before the start of the championship, Gerst indicated that he would be rooting for Germany nonetheless.
“I’m sure the best team will win,“ Gerst said. “But you can certainly imagine where my heart lies.”
He wore a German soccer jersey during the game against the US in Recife, and for the triumphant shearing of his NASA colleagues afterwards.
The three astronauts, who crew the ISS with three Russian cosmonauts, last month relayed good luck wishes to all the World Cup teams and fans in a video in which they demonstrated some cosmic footballing skills of their own. 
Since they live in a zero gravity environment, they were able to effortlessly execute flying headers and bicycle kicks in slow motion as they floated through the cramped interior of the space station. 
“Have fun and have peaceful games,” added Gerst, who launched to the ISS on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in May for his first space mission that will last six months. 
Whether he gets to see the final live or must settle for a recording depends on his other duties. The crew is currently preparing for the scheduled arrival on Tuesday of a cargo ship which blasted off Saturday.



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