We’ve all seen the pictures. Free-floating space travelers look to be having way too much fun frolicking in microgravity.
Even with all the daily chores and tight timelines, space crews are finding personal playtime in Earth orbit. Makeshift games can help ease the pressure of work-packed and lengthy missions.
Then there’s the Apollo 14 moonwalkers back in 1971. Edgar Mitchell threw a "javelin" across the lunar landscape. Alan Shepard also knocked around some golf balls for that ultimate hole-in-one on the crater-pocked surface.
Given the growth of passenger space travel, space sports of one type or another are likely. If so, could orbiting stadiums be far behind?
An early look at space sports comes courtesy of the Zero-Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G) – a space entertainment and tourism company headquartered in Dania Beach, Florida.
Making use of a modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft, ZERO-G provides thrill-seekers that free-fall feeling so enjoyed by astronauts. The firm’s "G-Force One" plane makes roller coaster-like maneuvers in the air with dives and pullouts repeated numbers of times for paying customers.
ZERO-G has been looking at a variety of weightless sports, said Peter Diamandis, chairman and chief executive officer of the company. The group has been approached by a range of individuals and companies having an array of ideas for space sports, he said.
"From my standpoint, I think watching World Wrestling Entertainment where the competitors are wresting both during the zero-g and 1.8g portions [of flight] could be a lot of fun," Diamandis told SPACE.com.
Onboard the company’s aircraft, passengers have already played weightless dodge ball and tag. In addition, the company has been approached about zero-g gymnastics and a zero-g fashion show, Diamandis added.
"This past fall, ZERO-G was used in the premier of season two of the TV show, The Biggest Looser. For this airing the producers created a competition where teams needed to gather colored plastic balls that were released and floated free. It was a very successful competition with great visuals," Diamandis noted.