The International Space Station is a state-of-the-art laboratory where astronauts perform hundreds of important experiments every year — but that does not mean that life on orbit is all work and no play for the outpost’s crews.
In between their other assignments, NASA astronauts take part in in-flight educational downlinks with schools around the country, answering students’ questions about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics. Some of those exchanges are a source of fun, too!
“For the first time I am going to attempt a triple, so here we go,” said Mark Vande Hei, before performing three zero-g somersaults in a row. Currently a member of the Expedition 66 crew, Vande Hei is set to spend a full year, 365 days, aboard the space station.
Vande Hei’s orbital acrobats kicks off NASA’s list of “The 9 Most Memorable Downlink Moments of 2021,” as posted to the agency’s STEM YouTube channel.
Not to be outdone — and actually ranking a step ahead — Expedition 65 crewmates Shannon Walker of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) replied to a young girl’s query about whether you can arm wrestle in space by demonstrating just that.
“That’s a great question!” said Noguchi. “I am ready to fight today with Shannon, so I give you the arm wresting in space!”
Guess who won?
Not all of the moments on NASA’s list were feats of physical prowess. SpaceX Crew-1 pilot Victor Glover shared his thoughts on extraterrestrial gardening to rank sixth, while Crew-2 crewmates Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur likened the smell of space to a popular fast food sandwich to come in fifth.
“Maybe we’re just really hungry…” said Kimbrough with a laugh.
Kimbrough and McArthur reunite for spot number 4, this time joined by Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) for a bit of space food show and tell.
Number 3 involves Expedition 64 crewmates Walker and Kate Rubins sharing hair care tips, while the penultimate place goes to Vande Hei (joined by Pesquet) for account of the strange-but-sparkly weather on Jupiter.
So who and what ranks number 1? You will have to watch the video to find out, but suffice to say they have a ball (or two) when answering!