Do you ever wonder what astronauts tend to do in their free time when they are in space? According to NASA inputs, one of the best ways to pass time for astronauts when they are orbiting Earth from the International Space Station is to look and admire the view outside their window.
Most astronauts have said that they are completely in fascination as they look at the Earth beneath them, spinning in all its glory, textures, and shades. Apart from that, even the sunsets and sunrises that occur every 45 minutes above the atmosphere of the Earth are pretty spectacular to look at.
Astronauts Playing Baseball in Space
Also Read: List of Unusual Sports We Should Know
But keeping the sightseeing point aside, there are still a lot of things for astronauts to do in their free time. NASA, as well as other space agencies, fully encourage the astronauts to play different games in the spare time that they have. But what exactly are the games that astronauts can play in space? Will the game even feel the same without any friction or gravity? Here we are mentioning some astronaut games they tend to play during their space travel.
Passing the time in space can be quite a task. After all, there is no TV or mobile phone to entertain you. Well, for astronauts, that is hardly a problem because there are many different games that they can play in space. Here we are going to mention the 5 types of games that astronauts play when they are in space.
1. Board Games
Different board games such as chess and scrabble in space tend to have one thing that is different from the rest - they are played on the Velcro board. The reason behind this is that any particular object that is loose can easily drift away due to the lack of gravity and hence cause harm to the spacecraft or the people who are in it.
Another amazing thing about the board game of chess is that it is often played by opponents who aren’t even on the same planet. Different space-to-earth chess matches are played by the astronauts, and their opponents are actually from the earth.
The first game that ever took place for space-to-earth chess was between a team of two pilot cosmonauts (a name used for Russian astronauts), Vitaly Ivanovich Sevastyanov and Andriyan Grigoryevich Nikolaev, while their opponents on the earth included Colonel-General of Aviation Nikolai Petrovich Kamanin and Viktor Gorbatko, another pilot cosmonaut.
Baseball is definitely one of the favourite pastime sports for the people in America. But when this sport is played on Earth, there are 9 members on each side of the team. However, in space, the equation is a bit different. This is due to the absence of gravity. There is no way baseball can be played in space, right? Or that is what you think.
In space, the game of Baseball consists of just one player. An astronaut from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, Satoshi Furukawa, demonstrated how one could actually play baseball in space. The only difference is that there is just one player in this sport when played in space. Furukawa demonstrated how one could use microgravity to play baseball in space, and ever since then, it is definitely one of the most common games for astronauts who want to play some games to pass the time.
Just like baseball, the rules of the sport of football or soccer tend to change a little bit when people are in space. We all know that a normal soccer or football game consists of about 11 players on either side of the team. However, such a high number of players is definitely not possible to have in a space football game.
In space, the game is basically modified to be a 3-person or sometimes a 2-person game. An astronaut from NASA, Steve Swanson, actually showed the world how football or soccer could be played in space, albeit with a few variations to the rules due to the absence of gravity. The name for that sport is Space Soccer.
Believe it or not but one of the most popular zero gravity games that the astronauts tend to play in space would actually be gymnastics. In fact, there are a lot of astronauts who have been reported to be somersaulting during their video calls to the team from the International Space Station. Somehow, it becomes very intuitive for someone to do the same when they are experiencing zero gravity in space. Besides doing some amazing somersaults, the astronauts have also become proficient in different classic moves such as twists, handstands, flips, and much more.
It was on the 6th of February 1971 when famous golfer and astronaut Alan Shepard actually turned the landing site for Apollo 14 on the moon into a proper driving range. He is basically the only person to efficiently hit a golf ball, and that too on the moon. He hit 2 different golf balls using the 6-feet iron golf club by attaching it properly to the lunar soil sampler’s foldable shaft. Now that is what we call a genius!
He mentioned that the 2nd ball had actually gone a very long distance. This is the perfect description of the minimalistic gravitational environment of the moon. So, the objects tend to be in free motion, and hence there is a pretty good chance that the ball managed to travel for a long time.
The psychologists of NASA have managed to recognize that play and relaxation are actually fundamental to ensure the mental health benefit of the astronauts who are in space. Hence, just like other professions, the astronauts are also provided with weekend offs during their time in space. This is the time when they are allowed to play astronaut simulator games and enjoy their time.
While it can be amusing to imagine playing games in a zero-gravity environment, it teaches a very important lesson. No matter how serious the profession is, playing sports can actually be one of the best ways to increase satisfaction and boost mental health.