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Space Station Crew Backs Steelers in Super Bowl

Space Station Crew Backs Steelers in Super Bowl
Space station commander Michael Fincke gives the Pittsburgh Steelers a thumbs up in support of their NFL playoff game.
(Image: © NASA TV.)

A team ofastronauts aboard the International Space Station is pulling for the PittsburghSteelers in this weekend?s Super Bowl showdown against the Arizona Cardinals.

Leading thespaceSteelers 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 earlierthis month.

?The entirecrew?s rooting for a good Super Bowl this year and of course we want theSteelers to win, but you know it?s more than that,? Fincke told the Pittsburghradio station KDKA this week. ?It?s great that our team has made it to theSuper Bowl yet again.?

Finckeand his crewmates, NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus and Russian cosmonaut YuryLonchakov, plan to tune in late Sunday night, since they follow Greenwich MeanTime 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?reactually going to be up late at night watching the Super Bowl like many other peoplethat are around the world,? Fincke said. ?Yury, he?s from Russia and he stilldoesn?t quite get American football, but I think he?s still a Steelers fan deepdown inside.?

There?slittle 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 launchedto the space station last October.

?I?m reallyglad to have the opportunity to bring up not just the Terrible Towel, but alsoone for my daughter...a Terrible ToddlerTowel,? said Fincke, who is married to wife Renita and has twoyoung daughters - Tarali and Surya - and a son, Chandra.

WhileSteelers captain ?Big? Ben Roethlisberger or strong safety Troy Polamalu mightmake good astronauts, Fincke favored team coach Mike Tomlin as being at the topof his list.

?Heactually understands how to get the whole team together, and that?s what we dohere aboard the International Space Station,? said Fincke. ?Practically, any ofthe Steelers couldmake it up here.?

Fincke wasborn 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 toreturn to Earth in early April. He last flewto the space station as an Expedition 9 flight engineer in 2004.

?When I flyup here, Pittsburgh is with me,? Fincke said. ?There really is no place likehome, and there?s something really special about the great, big Pittsburgh.?

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