A team of astronauts aboard the International Space Station is pulling for the Pittsburgh Steelers in this weekend's Super Bowl showdown against the Arizona Cardinals.
Leading the space Steelers charge is station skipper Michael Fincke, a native of Pittsburgh,Pa., who beamed a video message of support to his team during the NFL playoffs earlier this month.
"The entire crew's rooting for a good Super Bowl this year and of course we want the Steelers to win, but you know it's more than that," Fincke told the Pittsburgh radio station KDKA this week. "It's great that our team has made it to the Super Bowl yet again."
Fincke and his crewmates, NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus and Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov, plan to tune in late Sunday night, since they follow Greenwich Mean Time as they orbit the Earth from 220 miles (354 km) up. They'll be about five hours ahead of the game's 6:00 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) start time.
"We're actually going to be up late at night watching the Super Bowl like many other people that are around the world," Fincke said. "Yury, he's from Russia and he still doesn't quite get American football, but I think he's still a Steelers fan deep down inside."
There's little doubt that Fincke's faith in the Steelers' Super Bowl bid is strong.After all, he packed a Steelers cap and Terrible Towel in his luggage when he launched to the space station last October.
"I'm really glad to have the opportunity to bring up not just the Terrible Towel, but also one for my daughter...a Terrible Toddler Towel," said Fincke, who is married to wife Renita and has two young daughters - Tarali and Surya - and a son, Chandra.
While Steelers captain "Big" Ben Roethlisberger or strong safety Troy Polamalu might make good astronauts, Fincke favored team coach Mike Tomlin as being at the top of his list.
"He actually understands how to get the whole team together, and that's what we do here aboard the International Space Station," said Fincke. "Practically, any of the Steelers could make it up here."
Fincke was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in nearby Emsworth, Pa. A veteran NASA spaceflyer,he is currently commanding the station's Expedition 18 crew and is due to return to Earth in early April. He last flew to the space station as an Expedition 9 flight engineer in 2004.
"When I fly up here, Pittsburgh is with me," Fincke said. "There really is no place like home, and there?s something really special about the great, big Pittsburgh."
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.