Space Commander Cheers for Steelers in NFL Playoff

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 credit: NASA TV.)

When he's not commanding a $100 billion space station, NASA astronaut Michael Fincke is cheering on his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers as they head into the NFL playoffs this weekend.

Fincke armed himself with the Steelers' trademark Terrible Towel and a team cap Friday in a video message beamed to Earth from the International Space Station as it orbited 220 miles (354 km) overhead.

"We'd like to say though, that up here, it's Steeler country," said Fincke with a wide smile and enthusiastic thumbs up.

Fincke, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., who grew up in nearby Emsworth, is commanding the space station's three-astronaut Expedition 18 crew, which took charge of the orbiting laboratory last October. He is due to return to Earth in early April.

"Duringthat time, we?ve really missed our family, we've missed our friends," Fincke said. "But thanks to our friends in Houston, Texas, at the Mission Control Center we haven't missed out on football, especially the playoffs."

Fincke's Steelers will face off against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday for the American Football Conference title while the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals vie for the National Football Conference championship.

"We'd like to congratulate the four teams that made it to the conference championships,"Fincke said. "We know that your fans are all rooting for you all across the planet."

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of 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's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, 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 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.