This is how astronauts celebrate Thanksgiving in space

“I will do everything I can to show how grateful I am to my fellow crew members,” NASA astronaut Mark Vandy Hee said in a NASA video shared from the International Space Station on Monday. “It’s great to have all these people here. We haven’t been here together for a long time, but wow it sure was really cool.”

The space station will host seven crew members throughout the holiday season.

The international crew includes Russian astronauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Baron and Vandy He and European Space Agency astronauts Matthias Maurer.

“We’re going to work but we’re looking forward to having a great meal together,” Barron said. “We’ll invite our fellow astronauts to join us, so it’s a very international Thanksgiving.”

The astronauts shared the traditions they usually share with their families. Shari said he and his family usually walk around the table and ask everyone to say what they’re grateful for, so he’ll call and “do it remotely” this year.

Astronauts usually call home to talk with friends, family, and loved ones on holidays away from home.

Shari also said that while the jogging occurred like a Turkish trot on the ground, he brought special colorful headbands for him and the crew to wear as they flee their holiday meal on the space station’s treadmill.

This year, the astronaut’s Thanksgiving menu includes crab soup, roast turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cherry cobbler.

Vande Hei said, “I just want my family to know how much I appreciate their love and support. Even though I’ll be so far away and moving so fast, my heart is definitely with them.”

Holidays away from the earth

Astronauts have celebrated the tradition of celebrating holidays in space since the days of the Apollo mission, when the crew of Apollo 8 shared a Christmas Eve message on live television in 1968 by taking turns reading the Book of Genesis in the Bible.

The first Thanksgiving in space was celebrated on November 22, 1973, when Skylab 4 astronauts Gerald B. Carr, Edward J. Gibson and William R. Boj has two meals at dinnertime, although there is nothing special on the menu for the occasion. The three worked on a spacewalk and supported it for six hours and 33 minutes earlier in the day and missed lunch.

The next event did not occur until November 28, 1985, when the seven STS-61B crew members from Brewster H. Shaw, Bryan D. O’Connor, Jerry L. Ross, Mary L. Cleave, Sherwood C. “Enjoy Woody” Spring, and Charles De Walker and Rodolfo Neri Villa with a private meal aboard the space shuttle Atlantis.

In addition to the shrimp cocktail, radiant turkey, and cranberry sauce, Neri Vela has been known for bringing tortillas into space. Unlike bread, which crumbles easily, tortillas are the perfect addition to the space menu, and a favorite among astronauts to this day. Lately, tortilla chips have been the perfect medium for space tacos made using the first space-grown chile peppers.

Astronauts test the taste of a taco using the first chile peppers grown in space

The first Thanksgiving took place on the space station on November 23, 2000, just three weeks after the trilogy of NASA astronaut William M. The two Russian cosmonauts, Yuri B. Gadzenko and Sergey Krikalev. The festive meal began the celebration that has been held at the station every November since then.

The space station hosted the largest and most diverse Thanksgiving celebration to date in 2009. A crew of six astronauts, including Jeffrey N. Thirsk, he was already on board. Next, they welcomed six crew members of the STS-129 space shuttle, which brought Charles O. Hobo, Barry E. Wilmore, Michael J. Foreman, Robert L. Satcher, Randolph J. Bresnik and Leland de Melvin are on board.

The 12-member crew represents the United States, Russia, Belgium and Canada, and they celebrated together two days before the shuttle left the space station on Thanksgiving itself.

How to host a Thanksgiving dinner in space

How these holidays are defined and celebrated is up to each individual crew, and space veterans tend to share suggestions and ideas with newbies before they board, NASA astronaut Dr. Andrew Morgan told CNN in 2020.

Morgan spent the entire holiday season on the space station in 2019 alongside colleagues Jessica Meir, Christina Koch, Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Skripochka and Luca Parmitano.

It's not Thanksgiving in space without some handmade turkey decorations.
It’s been a busy time at the space station with many spacewalks and experiments on schedule, but the astronauts were able to get together for a special meal this weekend with their international crew and talk about what Thanksgiving means to them.

Turkey, the stuffing of mashed potatoes on the standard menu for NASA astronauts, but they also kept special treats like smoked salmon and cranberry sauce to share with each other. In space, the cranberry sauce perfectly keeps the shape of the can it came in. Meir and Koch also made handmade turkeys to decorate their table.

In 2020, the menu included cornbread sauce, smoked turkey, green beans, and mashed potatoes. JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi brought some Japanese “party food” to share, including curry rice, red bean rice, and some special seafood prepared by a Japanese high school student on Earth for the crew.

For NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, it was his second Thanksgiving in space after vacationing at the station in 2013.

“For me, Thanksgiving is all about family,” Hopkins said. “This year, I’m spending it with my international family. We all feel very fortunate to be here and we are so grateful for everything we have.”


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