Watch: When ISS astronauts celebrated Christmas in space and Santa paid them a visit

Though this year’s Christmas celebrations were muted across the globe owing to the pandemic, the festive cheer nonetheless managed to spread to the outer space. The astronauts at International Space Station (ISS) not only celebrated Christmas aboard the space station but also sent a message about human resilience back to Earth.

All seven members of the ISS’s Expedition 64 crew took the day off in orbit to relax but five of them beamed some special videos for everyone on Earth. Talking how the pandemic changed lives, they saluted human spirit and talked how they are celebrating Christmas, showing gifts they received through special delivery.

Even though the crew took the day off, they stressed that the Mission Control team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston work round-the-clock and will be working on all days over the holiday break and gave a special shoutout.

The international crew in ISS includes NASA astronauts Kate Rubins, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover Jr. and Shannon Walker; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi; and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov.

In keeping with the traditions, they decked the ISS with holiday decorations made with items found around the station and flaunted it by challenging the mission control crew to create holiday decorations made only of materials found in the building. Wearing a festive red-and-green Christmas blazer, Scoville responded, “Challenge accepted!’ before adding ‘I may have to cut this coat up and make it into something new later.”

Holiday spirits were evident in the video messages as SpaceX Crew Dragon pilot Victor Glover showed off his socks — custom-printed with photos of his family member — and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency engineer Soichi Noguchi shared an early Christmas present for the team — a can of mackerel made by a group of schoolgirls. “This is a small, small can of mackerel, but a giant leap for Japanese high school girls,” Noguchi joked showing off the gift.

And as festival of Christmas is incomplete without Santa Claus, for the first-time ever, astronauts on the ISS got a special visit from a strange spacecraft — powered by a reindeer and carrying a jolly old elf. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI) have unveiled a new video of Santa’s flyby by the station for the festival.

“For the first time ever, the FAA issued Santa a special commercial space license for a crewed mission to the International Space Station using his StarSleigh-1 space capsule powered by the Rudolph Rocket,” FAA had said in a statement. “Let’s face it, 2020 was a difficult year and we all could use some special holiday cheer that only Santa can deliver,” it added.

Earlier they took some time to send a message of “resilience” back home during a particularly difficult holiday season, explaining once again the significance of the name they gave to the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule that launched four of the astronauts to the space station in November.

Away from home and family on Earth, for the past 20 years astronauts have spent holidays aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and every year, they have immortalised the events by adapting newer ways to enjoy festivities in outer space.

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