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Astronauts Celebrate Christmas in Orbit with Festive Messages and Meals

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Dec 27, 2023

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) celebrated Christmas in zero gravity this year, keeping up holiday traditions even while orbiting 250 miles above the planet.

Festive Messages Sent from Space

The Expedition 70 crew members currently living and working on the ISS recorded special video Christmas greetings to share with people back on Earth [1]. The messages were uplinked on Friday, December 23.

“The six of us would like to wish everybody on the planet, everybody on the space station, our families, our friends, all of you a very merry Christmas and happy holidays,” said NASA astronaut Nicole Mann [2].

Fellow NASA astronaut Josh Cassada added, “It’s a magical time of year, and although we can’t be with our loved ones during this holiday season, we’re together as a crew on board the ISS representing our agencies and our countries.”

The rest of the Expedition 70 crew includes Roscosmos cosmonauts Dmitri Petelin, Sergey Prokopyev, and Anna Kikina, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata.

Floating Stockings and Festive Decorations

The crew also prepared their orbital home for the holidays by setting up decorations like stockings for each person, a miniature Christmas tree, and festive lights [3] [4].

“Celebrating traditions is so important for humans, wherever we may be,” said NASA astronaut Frank Rubio currently aboard the ISS. He arrived at the space station back in September during the transition between Expedition 67 and 68.

Image Description
Astronauts floating in zero gravity posing with tiny Christmas trees and decorations The Expedition 70 crew poses with their Christmas decorations (Photo: NASA)

The festive setup also included a menorah for the Jewish holiday Hanukkah in November. “Happy Hanukkah to all those who celebrate it on Earth! Happy holidays from our orbiter family to yours,” Kikina said as she floated beside the symbolic candelabrum.

Special Holiday Menu

Along with the trimmings, the Expedition 70 astronauts enjoyed a holiday menu courtesy of their space support teams. The Christmas Day dinner options included roasted turkey, cornbread dressing, smoked ham, green beans with mushrooms, cranberry apple dessert, and lemonade [5].

Prior to sitting down for their special meal, the astronauts also engaged in a long-held tradition of taking photos of each other in fun poses almost appearing to sit around a table [6]. Of course tables and sitting are not necessary in microgravity!

Carrying on Holiday Traditions

Spending time away from family and friends during the holiday season can be difficult for the astronauts. “I think all of us, although we might be far away from home, we’ll take some time to think about what this season means to each one of us,” said Cassada [7].

Carrying on familiar traditions helps boost morale for crew members who must spend months at a time living on the ISS to support critical space research. The festive activities also help spread some holiday cheer to people around the world.

“The holidays are special no matter where you are, and the more that we can share our traditions with each other, the more we learn and grow together,” said Kikina.

Crew Configuration Changes After the New Year

Two spacecraft are slated to depart the ISS in early 2023, temporarily reducing the crew size to just three members [8]. The Soyuz MS-22 crew ship that flew Prokopyev, Petelin, and Rubio to the orbital lab will return home no earlier than March 2023.

Additionally, SpaceX’s Crew-5 mission with Mann, Cassada, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina are expected to splashdown off the coast of Florida sometime between late February and mid March.

Both Crew-5 and Soyuz MS-22 have experienced technical issues that delayed their landings. The Soyuz leak in December could have forced the entire Expedition 70 crew to evacuate if not repairable.

Once Crew-5 departs, Expedition 71 will formally begin with a reduced three-person team. Cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin will stay aboard with NASA astronaut Frank Rubio until replacements arrive later next year.

The ISS continually flies with international crews to advance scientific research in the unique microgravity environment as well as test technologies that will take humans deeper into space. But the busy mission schedule does not stop the residents of Earth’s orbiting outpost from enjoying some holiday traditions during Christmas.

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To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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