The International Space Station can get quite interesting during the World Cup. Most recently, a NASA astronaut lost a bet to his German fellow crewman, and while there are no Belgians currently aboard the ISS, the U.S. and Belgium share a healthy science and space partnership.

There is currently one Belgian astronaut in the European Space Agency corps. Frank De Winne is the second Belgian in space and served as ISS Expedition 21 Commander in 2009. The first Belgian in space was Dirk Frimount.

U.S. and Belgium In Space Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne works with NASA astronaut Nicole Stott aboard the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

As NASA notes, Belgium is a member of the ESA and partners with the United States’ NASA on the ISS. The ESA’s PROBA satellite, launched in 2001, was developed by Belgium and the SOIR-NOMAD instrument will be aboard the ExoMars Satellite, which will launch in 2016. NASA also notes Belgium partnered with France to develop the Pléiades satellites that observe Earth.

The NASA astronauts currently aboard the ISS, Expedition 40 commander Steve Swanson and Reid Wiseman, will be watching the World Cup match between the U.S. and Belgium Tuesday night. German astronaut Alexander Gerst already saw his national team advance to the Quarterfinals after Germany beat Algeria on Monday. Astronauts have been able to watch World Cup matches aboard the space station with a slight delay as NASA uploads the matches after they broadcast.



In the group stage, Gerst, Wiseman and Swanson had a friendly bet on the outcome of U.S. vs. Germany. If the U.S. won, the NASA astronauts would draw an American flag on Gerst’s head; if Germany, Reid and Wiseman would have to shave their heads. Germany won the World Cup match and Gerst shaved the heads of Wiseman and Swanson.