On Aug. 21, tennis made its official debut on the International Space Station. The crew on station held a little match of their own ahead of the 2018 US Open Tennis Championships.
Using small rackets and a makeshift net, NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold faced Serena Auñón-Chancellor and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Alexander Gerst in a match that was projected onto a large metal globe outside the United States Tennis Association Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City, where the US Open is played.
A photo by @ustennis to announce the tennis match on Station.
Due to the lack of gravity, a tennis ball doesn’t behave like it does on Earth. Instead, the ball continues travelling in the direction it was hit until it comes into contact with another surface.
“Balls won’t bounce, and gravity has no effect,” Feustel said. “To me, it’s going to seem like that old game Pong, where you hit the ball and the ball just goes straight; it doesn’t bounce on anything."
To prepare for the match, Feustel received some tips via a video downlink from 2009 US Open champion, Juan Martín del Potro. The advice worked, as Feustel and Arnold took home the win. Well, they took it back to their crew quarters, at least.
NASA Johnson Space Center
Picture of the court tweeted by NASA Astronaut A.J. (Drew) Feutsel. Credit: @Astro_Feutsel