It turns out that even while in space, the six inhabitants of the International Space Station have a way to tune into the World Cup that doesn't involve looking out the window as they pass over Brazil. So how do they, along with NASA, make it possible to watch the games live?
Brazil's national stadium, Estado Nacional, viewed from the Space Station [NASA]
NASA Public Affairs Officer Stephanie Schierholz tells Discovery News:
"Space station crew members request whatever programming they would like to see, and Mission Control arranges for those television shows to be uplinked to them on their Station Support Computers. NASA's Johnson Space Center television infrastructure pulls in programming from both commercial and cable outlets and can route any connection to Mission Control for uplink to the crew."
The connection is made possible via a Ku band connection, providing more bandwidth than they normally get, 230 miles above us. The crew has access to the stream for 80 of every 90 minutes during each orbit around the Earth.
"For example, the final match of the World Cup falls during off-duty time on a Sunday, so [the space station crew] might choose to watch some of the game live during the times they have Ku-band connection to Mission Control."
Ku band connections are also used on commercial jets to provide WiFi to passengers. For example, here in the U.S., WiFi provider Row44 uses Ku technology on the system it has in use with Southwest Airlines. Gogo is also beginning to roll out Ku WiFi, and can be found on some of Delta's international aircraft.
Top photo: ISS residents watch the World Cup on a laptop. Image by NASA.