Washington, September 27 : NASA and the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) are teaming up to host the first public chess match between International Space Station astronaut Greg Chamitoff and the inhabitants of the Earth, beginning Monday, September 29.
Key players in the game will be the kindergarten through third grade U.S. Chess Championship Team and its chess club teammates from Stevenson Elementary School in Bellevue, Washington.
The K-3 champions will select up to four possible moves on Earth's turn. The public then will vote on the move transmitted to orbit.
"For the past 10 years, the International Space Station has been an important platform to learn about living in space. We're excited to have the opportunity to engage not only young students, but the public at large in this unique chess match," said Heather Rarick, lead flight director for the current space station mission at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
"We hope the excitement and interest this game generates will inspire students to become interested in chess," said USCF Executive Director Bill Hall. "Chess is a valuable tool to lead students to become interested in math and to develop critical thinking skills, objectives we focus on in our work with schools nationwide," he added.
Chamitoff, a space station flight engineer speeding about 210 miles above the Earth at five miles a second, is a chess aficionado. He brought a chess set with him when he arrived at the complex on the STS-124 space shuttle mission in June.
Chamitoff has added Velcro to the chess pieces to keep them from floating away in weightlessness. e has been playing long-distance chess during his mission in his off time with station control centers around the world.
So far, he is undefeated.
The game against the public will move at a pace of one move per day on weekdays only. Play may be slower, however, because Chamitoff only makes moves when his workload permits.