ISS astronauts host the very first Galactic Olympics! News article for children

The seven ISS astronauts who took part in the very first Olympic Games in space (Photo credit: NASA)

COVID-delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics ended on August 8, 2021, with a spectacular closing ceremony and fireworks. To mark the occasion, the seven astronauts a board the International Space Station (ISS) organized the first space Olympics. The four events, modeled after the classic Summer Games competitions, included some fun twists to consider weightlessness.

Team Dragon performs their ‘synchronized floating’ routine (Photo credit: NASA)

Members of both teams were selected based on the spacecraft that transported the astronauts to the ISS. The Dragon team consisted of Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough from NASA, Japanese Aki Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet from France. The Soyuz team understood Russian cosmonauts Piotr Dubrovnik and Oleg Novitsky, and Mark Vande Hei of NASA.

The two-day event, held on the weekend of August 8, 2021, began with a synchronized “swim”. The lack of water on board the space station does not appear disconcert the competitors. They worked perfectly choreography floating routines instead of.

Dubrovnik impressed fellow astronauts with his non-contact and groundless gymnastics skills (NASA)

Then there was the “lack of soil” gymnastics. The weightless jumps and somersaults of the astronauts would have wowed even the world’s best gymnast, Simone Biles. Dubrovnik received a supplement to rent of his teammates for completing his routine without touching the walls of the space station.

Both teams prepare for the non-handball competition (NASA)

The competition was followed by a four-minute handball game. On Earth, players usually run across the field and try to throw the ball into the opposing team’s goals. However, on the ISS, the ingenious “no handball” game account on players using their breathing to blow a small ping-pong ball through the opposite hatch – each guarded by a “goalie”. The competition was fierce, especially after the rules changed halfway through and allowed the use of body parts above the knee. The exciting event ended with the Soyuz team scoring in the dying seconds and winning the match.

Kimbrough lines up a rubber band shot on his target for “zero gravity” marksmanship (NASA)

The fourth and final event was marksmanship, with the astronauts using large rubber bands to hit the target. The lack of gravity and air resistance made the already difficult event even more difficult.

The space games ended with a symbolic closing ceremony. It reflected the handover of the Summer Games in Paris on Earth. Hoshide, representing Japan presented French astronaut Pesquet with a small flag. It featured the Olympic Games symbol on the front and “Paris 2024” on the back.

Hoshide hands over the Olympic flag to French astronaut Pesquet (NASA)

While this was the very first space competition, it was not the first time that ISS astronauts have celebrated the Olympics. In 2013, Russian cosmonauts carried out a spacewalk with an extinct replica of the Olympic flame on the occasion of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. Similar torches were also used in 1996 and 2000. However, they remained inside the ISS both times.