U.S. And Belgium: Opponents On The Field, Partners On The Space Station
U.S. and Belgian players meet as opponents on the field during game 56 of World Cup 2014 on July 1, but the two countries have a long history of working as partners in space.
As a member of the European Space Agency, Belgium partners with the United States and 14 other countries on the International Space Station. The first commander of the station from the European Space Agency was Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne during Expedition 21 in 2009. Cosmonaut Maxim Suraev, who is currently aboard the station as a member of the Expedition 40 crew, was aboard for his first mission while De Winne was commander. The first Belgian astronaut in space was Dirk Frimout, who flew as a payload specialist on STS-45 Atlantis in 1992, with now NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden.
In addition to collaboration on the International Space Station, Belgium brings a wealth of knowledge about Earth observation to the international community. Over the past 15 years, Belgium has developed scientific and technical expertise for the processing of satellite data, working on how earth observation can be used to inform sustainable, environmentally responsible decisions. Belgium partnered with France on the Pléiades earth observation program that was able to obtain satellite images of the World Cup 2014 Stadiums from space.
For now, the rivalry among U.S. astronauts Reid Wiseman and Steve Swanson and their German crewmate Alexander Gerst is quiet. Instead they are all cheering on their teams in hopes they meet again in the final game.
Wiseman and Gerst arrived at the space station May 28 as part of the Expedition 40/41 crew and are scheduled to spend the next several months living and working in space until they return to Earth in November. Swanson arrived as part of the Expedition 39/40 crew on March 25 and is expected to return home in September.
NASA has more connections to the World Cup than you might think. For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/worldcup
NASA is getting involved with the hashtags #USMNT, #WorldCup, #WorldCup2014, and #BELUSA. For more information about how you can connect with NASA on social media visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect
For more information about the International Space Station and its current crew, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station/