Christmas in Orbit: Astronauts Make Merry Aboard the Space Station

Today, astronauts on the International Space Station will celebrate the day in many of the same ways that people on Earth celebrate the holiday — relaxing, talking to friends and family, and sharing a special meal. But they do it all while weightlessly floating inside a laboratory that's whizzing around the Earth at 17,500 mph (28,000 kilometers/hour).

Astronauts at the space station even have gifts from home to open this morning. The gifts were sent to space earlier this month inside a Japanese cargo supply ship. Because the spacecraft goes around the Earth every 92 minutes, its occupants will see about 15 sunrises throughout the day. That's 15 Christmas mornings in less than 24 hours!

Instead of waking up and getting straight to work, like they did on Thanksgiving, the astronauts will enjoy the day off for Christmas. NASA spokesman Dan Huot told Space.com that the astronauts usually get Sundays off anyway, so this year they'll have Monday (Dec. 26) off as well.

As is tradition, the astronauts sent Christmas wishes down from space this week in preparation for the worldwide holiday. On Tuesday (Dec. 20), NASA shared a video in which three of the six crewmembers aboard the station talked about what the holiday means to them — and what's on the dinner menu, of course.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet rocks a classic Santa hat in the video. In that weightless environment, though, his hat takes on the pointy shape of one you'd find on an elf or a lawn gnome. At least it didn't float away from his head. Kudos to Pesquet for sporting his Christmas spirit!

Pesquet talked about his big family back home in France, where his grandmother would usually cook huge meals for him and his 25 cousins. "I won't be able to be there of course but I'll think of them. I'll try to give them a call and catch up as much as I can and make the most of this opportunity to look at the Earth and reflect about what Christmas means to us, to individuals, to the world in general, and I think we'll have a good time on board the ISS and share a Christmas meal together," Pesquet said.

Their meal will consist of many of the same foods Americans eat during the holidays — turkey, green beans, potatoes, cornbread stuffing and fruit salad. But instead of using plates, they’ll be eating out of cans and pouches. The astronauts even get to enjoy some gingerbread cookies, chocolate cake and hot cocoa for dessert.

Besides the traditional American holiday fare, Pesquet has some "French delicacies" to share with his crewmates: chicken supreme with morels and ox tongue, for example. From the subtle looks on his face, American astronaut and ISS commander Shane Kimbrough seemed a bit skeptical about trying the foreign foods  Pesquet discusses in the video.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson was also in the video. "I think being on board the ISS gives us a slightly different perspective of Christmas," she said. "Obviously friends and family are important to all of us. But besides funny hats there is another very important aspect of being on [the] ISS, and that’s seeing the planet as a whole, and it actually reinforces, I think, that the fact that we should live as one people and strive for peace."


Astronauts aboard ISS celebrate Christmas in space

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION - Astronauts on board the International Space Station are celebrating Christmas in space.

© NASA/Peggy Whitson via Twitter

The Expedition 50 crew sent a holiday greeting back home to Earth on Sunday. Astronaut Peggy Whitson says being in space gives Christmas a new meaning for her, emphasizing the importance of coming together.

"Being on board the ISS gives us a slightly different perspective on Christmas. Obviously friends and family are important to all of us, but besides funny hats, there is another very important aspect of being on the ISS and that's seeing the planet as a whole and it actually reinforces, I think, that we should live as one people and strive for peace," she said.

American and French astronauts are sharing memories of Christmas with their families.

"This year I wont be able to to be there of course but I'll think of them, I'll try to give them a call, catch up as much as I can. Make the most of this opportunity to look at the earth, reflect about what Christmas means to us as individuals, to the world in general, and I think we'll have a good time on board the ISS and share a Christmas meal together," said Thomas Pesquet, who is from Rouen, France.

And describing their holiday plans this year in zero gravity. The crew will enjoy a dehydrated feast of traditional food from each of their hometowns. French food on the Christmas menu includes chicken supreme with morels, ox tongue and gingerbread. Typical American green beans, potatoes, turkey and cornbread stuffing will go along with cobbler, chocolate cake, hot cider and cocoa.

"We're going to eat very well up here at Christmas. Of course we're all going to miss our family members and wish we could be with them, but we're going to have a great time up here. But like Thomas said earlier, we're going to reflect on what this whole season means to us and our families. So from the Expedition 50 crew, we want to wish you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays," said Commander Shane Kimbrough.


INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION CREW CELEBRATES CHRISTMAS

Astronauts celebrated the Xmas festivities aboard the ISS and had a jolly good time in conditions of zero gravity in outer space.
Astronauts aboard the ISS spent their Christmas holiday with panache and zest. Like all the rest of the earthlings on the planet, they took some time for a little rest and relaxation from the daily grind.

Astronauts celebrated the Xmas festivities aboard the ISS and had a jolly good time in conditions of zero gravity in outer space.
Astronauts aboard the ISS spent their Christmas holiday with panache and zest. Like all the rest of the earthlings on the planet, they took some time for a little rest and relaxation from the daily grind.

Also they got in touch with their near and dear ones on earth. They had the usual meals that are a part and parcel of Yuletide as well.

The fact that all this was done while in a state of weightlessness made it even more of an ultimate experience of sorts. The astronauts were in the ISS which was orbiting in motion around the earth. It was moving at 17,500 mph.

These astronauts even  got to open a consignment of presents that had been sent their way for Christmas by their loved ones back home. These gifts were sent to the ISS on board the Japanese cargo supply ship.

The astronauts enjoyed the day by dumping all plans of work and just chilling out in their Christmas socks and caps. Astronauts were given Sunday off anyway and this time the day was Christmas so it made their holiday even more special.

They all sent Christmas greetings down to the earthlings. NASA released a video clip of half a dozen crew members as they explained how much Christmas meant to them and how they enjoyed eating their food.

The French astronaut, Thomas Pesquet wore a Santa hat which took on a pointy look in conditions of zero gravity on board the ISS. Pesquet made mention of his huge extended family back in France. He recounted how his grandma used to cook hearty meals for him and his 25 cousins. 

Pesquet said that though he wouldn’t be able to go home for Christmas, his relatives and family will be the ones he will miss the most during the seasonal festivities.

He would of course keep in touch with them and ponder over the feelings of warmth and positivity that this wonderful holiday spread between families and friends.

The astronauts had turkey, green beans, potatoes, cornbread stuffing and fruit salad while aboard the ISS. They consumed the food out of cans and pouches.

Besides this, they also enjoyed gingerbread cookies, chocolate cake and hot cocoa. Pesquet even had some traditional French cuisine. This included chicken supreme with morels and ox tongue.

Some of the American astronauts looked on and seemed a little hesitant to try the ox tongue. Nevertheless, it was a merry and exhilarating time they all had in space.

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