Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Crew aboard the International Space Station decorate their quarters during the festive season (NASA)
Christmas aboard the International Space Station in 2007 (NASA)
Expedition 18 Astronauts Michael Fincke and Sandra Magnus tuck into Christmas cookies  (NASA)
Expedition 34 stockings for the six-man crew aboard the International Space Station during Christmas 2012. (CSA)
An upside down Christmas tree decorates the International Space Station during Expedition 34 in this photo taken by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield (CSA)
Astronauts assemble in the Unity node of the International Space Station for a Christmas party on December 24, 2012. Pictured clockwise (from top right) are NASA astronaut Kevin Ford, commander; Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, Russian cosmonauts Evgeny Tarelkin and Roman Romanenko, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, all flight engineers. (NASA)
Christmas onboard the Mir Space Station during NASA 6. ViFlight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov, Mission Specialist David Wolf, and Commander Anatoly Solovyev pose with a santa doll in a Orlan suit, small tree, decked boughs, and floating presents. (Source: NASA)

While you're unwrapping your presents, watching Christmas movies and tucking into the roast potatoes/avoiding the brussel sprouts tomorrow spare a thought for the people living 250 miles above you orbiting the Earth. 

Currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are Oleg Kotov, Mike Hopkins, Sergey Ryazanskiy, Rick Mastracchio, Mikhail Tyurin and Koichi Wakata who will be celebrating the festive season in true space style, a few examples of which I've shown above. The ISS has been continuously inhabited by humans for 13 years and in the Mir station prior to this therefore special holidays and birthdays are celebrated by astronauts in zero gravity, amongst the stars. 

Two astronauts are currently on a Christmas Eve spacewalk in an attempt to repair a part of the ISS cooling system. American astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins are fixing the malfunctioning ammonia pump which developed problems on December 11th. The last Christmas Eve spacewalk took place in 1999 when Discovery astronauts Steve Smith and John Grunsfield spent more than 8 hours refitting parts of the Hubble Space Telescope. 

Since the dawn of the Space Age, astronauts and cosmonauts have spent the Christmas season away from their loved ones, high above the Earth. Although, from their vantage point they may just catch a glimpse of the big man in the red suit and his reindeer flying across the sky!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas both in space and down on the ground. 

- Nikita

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