NASA Astronauts Lose World Cup Bet”“and Their Hair

A German astronaut did the honors after his country’s 1-0 win over the USMNT.

Astronauts Steve Swanson, Alexander Gerst and Reid Wiseman smile after Gerst shaved the American's heads.
National Journal
Alex Brown
June 27, 2014, 7:12 a.m.

A pair of NASA as­tro­nauts on board the In­ter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion par­ted with their hair Thursday after com­ing up on the los­ing end of a World Cup bet.

Amer­ic­ans Steve Swan­son and Re­id Wise­man, con­fid­ent after a strong early “Group of Death” show­ing from their team, agreed to get their heads shaved if Ger­many came out vic­tori­ous in the team’s Thursday game. Ger­man Al­ex­an­der Gerst, who already sports a shaved head, prom­ised to get an Amer­ic­an flag painted on his skull.

Fol­low­ing the Ger­man vic­tory, Swan­son and Wise­man held to their agree­ment. After Mis­sion Con­trol in Hou­s­ton ra­di­oed con­dol­ences (and help­fully poin­ted out the aero­dy­nam­ic ad­vant­ages of bald­ness), Wise­man asked for help in loc­at­ing the clip­pers, not­ing that Gerst was hav­ing dif­fi­culty find­ing them.

Ap­par­ently the clip­pers were even­tu­ally found, be­cause Gerst later pos­ted sev­er­al shots of his handi­work. “Good to know I can work as a barber after flight!” he tweeted. (Here, in a 2013 video, Ca­na­dian as­tro­naut Chris Had­field demon­strates how to get a space hair­cut.)

An earli­er ex­change may have por­ten­ded the Amer­ic­ans’ loss. Fol­low­ing Wise­man’s re­quest to tune the sta­tion’s screens to ES­PN to watch the game, Mis­sion Con­trol re­spon­ded in the af­firm­at­ive.

Wise­man: “Thank you very much, sir. You’ve made a very happy crew up here.”

Mis­sion Con­trol: “Don’t say that un­til you see what’s on ES­PN.”

Wise­man: “It’s not a video of two as­tro­nauts hav­ing their heads shaved by a Ger­man, is it?”

Mis­sion Con­trol: “That would be a very in­ter­est­ing Sports­Cen­ter edi­tion.”

In ad­di­tion, the as­tro­nauts played a little pickup soc­cer, com­plete with bi­cycle kicks and goal cel­eb­ra­tions that put ground-bound ath­letes to shame.

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