The truly extraordinary tennis match took place above Earth on the morning of Wednesday, August 22, aboard the Orbital Laboratory.
The tennis match saw Commander Feustel and other European Space Agency (ESA) astronauts create a makeshift “tennis court” inside the cramped space station.
The match took place inside ISS Node 1, which has been cleaned up specifically for the game.
Commander Feustel played a doubles match with NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold, Serena Aunon-Chancellor and ESA flight engineer Alexander Gerst.
Speaking from the ISS to tennis ace Juan MartÃn del Potro, Commander Feustel said playing sports in space was a delicate business.
He said: âThe challenge is that whenever we move quickly or have to plant our feet or do something powerful with our body, it’s really hard because you can see if I let go of my feet, I begins to float.
“So if I’m right in the middle of this module here and trying to swing a racket or hit a ball or do something like kick a soccer ball, I have nothing to plant my feet on.” .
âSo I start floating randomly and then it’s hard to force anything. “
The astronaut said the downside of not having gravity in space makes the game much trickier than it looks.
Without gravity, the tennis ball cannot bounce and react as it would on Earth when struck with a tennis racket.
Astronauts got around this problem by adapting the game to allow them to serve the ball over their makeshift net as well as below.
You can see the astronauts in the video having a blast as they spin, flip, and hover around the space station module.
Commander Feustel said before the match: âThe fact that we don’t have gravity is difficult. The balls will not bounce and gravity has no effect.
âTo me, it’s going to sound like that old game of Pong, where you hit the ball and the ball goes straight; it doesn’t bounce off anything.
âSo it’s going to be difficult. We may have to invent new rules.
The ISS tennis match was hosted by the United States Tennis Association just days before the US Open tennis championship in New York City on August 27.
A lucky few were lucky enough to watch the tennis match live at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York – home of the US Open.
The game was screened on the so-called Unisphere – a giant statue in the shape of a metallic globe in Corona Park, just outside the tennis complex.
Fans were also given the option to watch the match live online on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Periscope although there was no live stream from the ISS – just a broadcast of the New York City views.
Earlier in 2017, before Commander Feustel flew to the ISS, he said in a pre-mission briefing that he was a huge fan of tennis.
He teased, “Maybe we can play tennis in space.”