Astronauts celebrate NASA’s 18th Christmas at International Space Station
The astronauts of Expedition 54 celebrated Christmas, 250 miles above the Earth this year in the International Space Station. And being in space didn’t stop them from exchanging gifts and sharing a big Christmas dinner.
NASA said this was the 18th year astronauts had celebrated the holiday from space.
According to the post, astronauts spending the holiday aboard the ISS get the 25th off to talk to their families and open presents under their tiny, artificial Christmas tree.
Those currently aboard the ISS include NASA astronauts Joe Acaba, Mark Vande Hei and Scott Tingle, Russian Space Agency astronaut Anton Shkaplerov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Norishinge Kanai.
“We [already] have a Christmas tree aboard, and there is a new Christmas tree arriving soon,” Shkaplerov told reporters on Dec. 16 before he, Kanai and Tingle launched from Kazakhstan, Space.com states.
Shkaplerov also said on Dec. 16, that the crew was eagerly looking forward to opening packages from their loved ones.
“We have packages and gifts from our families and friends, and packages on-board the ISS labeled to open on Dec. 25 for U.S. crew members, and Dec. 31 for us from Russia,” said Shkaplerov who is spending his third holiday in space this year.
After opening presents, Space.com writes that the crew shared a holiday meal together. Last year’s Christmas dinner on the ISS included turkey, corn-bread stuffing, gingerbread cookies and hot cocoa.
NASA also said in a post that the astronauts would get to enjoy a private screening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
When they’re not celebrating, Expedition 54 crew members are researching and conducting a series of experiments on how cells change in space, according to a post by NASA. In total, the crew will conduct over 250 experiments in the fields of biology, earth sciences and physics.
Acaba, Vande Hei and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin will come home in February 2018, while Tingle and Kanai and Shkaplerov will return to Earth in June 2018.
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