An international three-man team returned to Earth Sunday after spending nearly half a year doing hard, cold science in orbit – which included playing sports, chatting with world leaders, and riding a vacuum cleaner in zero-g.
A Soyuz craft capsule carrying Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, NASA astronaut Scott D. Tingle, and Japan’s Norishige Kanai landed safely in Kazakhstan on Sunday, after the three had completed their mission on board the International Space Station (ISS). RT looks back at some of the fun moments of their busy schedule in Earth’s orbit.
A veteran of three ISS missions to date, Shkaplerov embarked on a maiden voyage of sorts – he decided to find out if one can fly on a vacuum cleaner in space, and film it. He pulled it off in a true myth-busters fashion with a fitting soundtrack.
Then the crew showed us the meaning of having fun in microgravity as they went for a game of dizzying space badminton. Mixed pairs of cosmonauts and astronauts faced each other off using both the “ceiling” and “walls” of the cramped space station module – and there is even a 360-degree footage of this that you can watch.
So we had space badminton, why not space football? Russia being the host of 2018 FIFA World Cup, the cosmonauts decided to practice daring penalty kicks and dramatic saves with an official championship ball. After shining in orbit and returning to Earth, this very same ball will be handled by pros during the tournament’s opening game in Moscow on June 14.
The crew also found time to inspire the future space pioneers that are now growing up. One day, two Russian cosmonauts video-linked American high school students from Montana, while, from the other side of Earth, Russian students joined in to ask their questions on what life in orbit is like. Montana teenagers got a bonus spaceflight experience, when the RT360 team treated them with virtual-reality headsets after the “space class,” showing mind-blowing panoramic views of spacewalks. Rumor has it that some flat-Earth theories were debunked that day.
Finally, near the mission’s end, the crew availed of the opportunity to share their experience with world leaders, as Shkaplerov and Kanai spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. A live feed was set up between the ISS and the Kremlin for the rare chat.
Of course, no trip would be complete without music, and a trip to ISS is no exception – check out astronaut Tingle’s blogfor more memories of jamming in space. A father of three and a guitar player himself, the NASA astronaut was surely thrilled to learn his son wrote a special song about his space voyage.