Christmas isn't just an earthbound holiday: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station beamed special holiday greetings this week from 254 miles above the planet.
Five members of the station's Expedition 64 crew praised 'the resilience of the human spirit' during this trying time and shared their hopes for a better new year.
There was also some holiday levity, as SpaceX Crew Dragon pilot Victor Glover showed off his socks, custom-printed with photos of his family, 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.
The team also challenged Mission Control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston to create holiday decorations made only of materials found in the building.
For the first time ever, the FAA granted Santa a special 'commercial space license' so he could stop off at the ISS on his annual journey delivering presents around the world, according to NORAD.
In one video, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins said the team chose to name the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule Resilience 'in tribute to people around the world and to the teams that help make our mission possible during a year that changed all our lives.'
'There couldn't be a more fitting name to describe 2020,' Glover added. 'The resilience of the human spirit is something that we can truly celebrate in this special season.'
Noguchi said he hoped viewers took the opportunity to celebrate the holidays 'before we turn the calendar to a fresh year with renewed hope and a spirit for the future.'
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station that's whizzing around the Earth at 17,500 mph will see 15 Christmas mornings in 24 hours!— Cinema Learning Challenge (@CinemaLearning) December 24, 2020
Photo courtesy of NASA, of Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (ESA) aboard the ISS in 2014. pic.twitter.com/sTd0keFxht
Glover also praise the efforts of service members and frontline workers, while Hopkins paid tribute to all those who passed away in 2020.
The three were part of SpaceX's first successful 'space taxi' flight, delivering them and astronaut Shannon Walker to the ISS on November 16.
There they joined NASA's Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, who were already onboard.
In another video, Walker said that whether it's on Earth or in space, the holidays mean the 'three Fs - family, friends and food.'
While they can't exactly carve up a Christmas goose in the ISS' microgravity, Noguchi unveiled a special can of mackerel made by schoolkids in Japan.
Schoolgirls at Wakasa High School in Obama City, Japan have been studying space-safe food for several years and the canned fish they created was recently approved for astronauts aboard the space station.
'This is a small, small can of mackerel, but a giant leap for Japanese high school girls,' Noguchi joked.
#TBT Christmas Day 2019 in space: @Astro_Christina, @astro_luca, @Astro_Jessica and I shared musical holiday cheer with @space_station Mission Control Centers around the world! (Unfortunately my talents are limited to the kazoo!) #FelizNavidad and #MerryChristmas2020 everyone! pic.twitter.com/UM64A8jqUt— Andrew Morgan (@AstroDrewMorgan) December 24, 2020
NASA deputy program manager Kenny Todd revealed earlier that a December 6 supply shipment also included 'some type of Christmas-y food.'
The crew has December 25 off, but Rubins said they'll follow tradition and deck the ISS with holiday decorations made of items around the station.
Hours of operation for Mission Control at NASA Johnson?— Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) December 24, 2020
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
Flight controllers get a special❄️ #Holiday ❄️shoutout from @Space_Station residents @NASA_Astronauts Kate Rubins, @AstroVicGlover, & @Astro_illini!
?: NASA/Anthony Vareha pic.twitter.com/tYgrQpz5H8
She challenged NASA flight director Zebulon Scoville and the Mission Control team at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to do the same with materials in the office.
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.'
This year, Santa made his first visit to the International Space Station, according to the Federal Aviation Administration
'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,' the agency said. 'The mission license includes both launch and reentry operations and will occur from a U.S.-based spaceport.'
FAA administrator Steve Dickson said he was happy to help Santa bring 'good will and joy' to the crew.
'Let's face it, 2020 was a difficult year and we all could use some special holiday cheer that only Santa can deliver.'
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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