A shuttlecock was flying 400 kilometres above Earth as the crew members of the International Space Station (ISS) played the first ever badminton match in space – making it the first ever zero-gravity badminton matches ever played by humans; or anyone – hopefully, aliens don’t play badminton.

At the International Space Station orbiting at a speed of 27,580 km/h at an altitude of 400 kilometres above Earth, astronauts don’t just work-work-work up there all the time. In fact, the ISS crew up there have played guitar, run a marathon and also ridden a vacuum cleaner like a scooter in zero gravity. The latest one is a zero-gravity space badminton match where the astronauts indulged themselves in playing badminton. In a video posted by Russian space agency Roscosmos, ISS crew members could be seen having a gala time playing badminton when a shuttle zoomed across the screen.

It was a double match held between Russian, Japanese and US astronauts – with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei playing against Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. Misurkin, the Russian commander and an enthusiast of sports, was particularly excited, twirling his racket and declaring that badminton was not just a game, it was way of life and hence, it had to be played up there too. The shuttle moves relatively slower than what it would on earth with no gravity messing with it, but it is still just too cool to complain about speed. And, the players are literally bouncing off the walls to stand on the ceiling to hit the shuttle – and, it never falls down – that makes up for most excitement for space badminton, right?

The game was played with space rules, of which, we have absolutely no idea. Interestingly, points were never counted, hence results were never declared because it was a friendly match. At the end of the badminton match, the National Badminton Federation of Russia (NBFR) declared all players as winners. However, the game is not only meant for fun but it is also meant to save astronauts from muscle atrophy – when gravity pulls down on all your muscles, it’s giving them a small but important workout that astronauts in zero-gravity don’t have. So it was fun and a need. But how cool, right? Ah the zero-gravity life.

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