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SPACE SPORTS

This is how you play ping-pong with water in space

YouTube/NASA Johnson
Space fun.
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

After 300 days of floating around the International Space Station, you, too, would probably be looking for new things to do. And NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, whose year in space ends soon, has found just the thing to entertain himself while also educating those of us back on planet Earth: space ping-pong.

As Kelly explains in the video, he’s using two paddles coated with a material that repels water—through a combination of a laser-etched surface and a Teflon coating. This allows him to bat a ball of water around. While it’s not exactly as disorienting for casual ping-pong players as, say, professional table tennis—what Kelly is doing bears some resemblance to basement pick-up games on terra firma—it shows off yet another bizarre aspect of physics in microgravity. (“Neat stuff,” Kelly comments at the video’s end.)

Never has watching a man slowly play ping-pong in 4K quality been quite so interesting.

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