NASA Astronauts Lose World Cup Bet–and Their Hair

Astronauts Steve Swanson, Alexander Gerst, and Reid Wiseman smile after Gerst shaved the Americans' heads. Astronauts Steve Swanson, Alexander Gerst, and Reid Wiseman smile after Gerst shaved the Americans' heads. NASA

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."

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