Watch Astronauts Showdown in the ISS's First Badminton Tournament

Space travelers' favorite pastime.


The United States has baseball, the rest of the world has soccer, and space travelers have badminton, apparently.

That was established on Tuesday when Roscosmos — the Russian government space agency — released a video of crew members aboard the International Space Station partaking in a zero-gravity match of the racquet sport.

It was a contest rivaling that of the Summer Olympics. In the first set, Russian cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov faced off against Mark Vande Hei from the United States and Norishige Kanai from Japan.

When the second set began, Vande Hei was substituted for NASA’s Joseph Acaba. Both match ups were action packed. The crew members rallied the shuttlecock back and forth while they grabbed onto anything nearby to try and stop themselves from floating away.

Roscosmos did not announce a final score, but instead stated that “friendship won,” to top off this wholesome celestial showdown. Aww.

While this all might seem like fun and games, taking a break from work and moving around is actually an important part of being an astronaut.

Being in space for prolonged periods of time causes muscle atrophy, or the wasting away of muscles due to lack of activity. Down on Earth, humans unknowingly use their calves, quadriceps, back, and neck muscles to simply resist the force of gravity.

Astronauts and cosmonauts, on the other hand, work in environments where those muscles get little to no use. So without regular exercise space travelers could begin to see some pretty adverse affects occur to their bodies.

Vande Hei said that future spacecraft like the ISS will have to provide areas for games like badminton as a means of relaxation and team building.

“In the future, in ships that will carry us to other worlds, it is necessary to provide a separate module for such a game,” Vande Hei said in a Roscosmos statement. “Since it is very useful from the point of view of psychological relaxation and strengthening of friendly relations in a team.”

So when commercial space travel becomes a reality, there might be a badminton court included.

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