Everyone’s favorite astronaut, Chris Hadfield, has described how he plays Scrabble in space.
Writing for The Guardian, Hadfield explains how games are an essential part of life on the International Space Station. “Our psychologist encourages lots of little habits to help keep us sane. One of these is Scrabble – they recognise that games are fundamental for peace of mind.” He goes on to note that he’s had “…a perpetual Scrabble competition” going on with his mom for 50 years. That’s cool (my mom always destroys me in Scrabble), but how does he play in space?
One word: Velcro.
“Our Scrabble board had Velcro on the back, as did each alphabet piece. Everything on the inside of a spaceship has Velcro on it. The Scrabble board was attached to the ceiling in the same place that we ate our meals. So once you’ve heated up your bag of mash and you’re squeezing it in to your mouth, you can be working on your next word.”
Occasionally a piece will get lost, despite the Velcro, but not for long. Hadfield notes that everything in the ISS is pulled towards the air filters, so eventually a stray piece will get caught. While Scrabble is fun, Hadfield says there isn’t a ton of time to play. “There is never a shortage of things to do [on the ISS]. It’s an over-saturated life, where you occasionally get the time to play Scrabble.”
It’s a good thing the Vulcans gave us Velcro.