Christmas in space: Astronauts celebrate a special cosmic holiday in orbit

By Hanneke Weitering
December 25, 2018, 11:14:29 AM EST


Merry Christmas from the International Space Station! The crew of Expedition 58 beamed home their jolly holiday wishes today (Dec. 25) on the 50th anniversary of the first Christmas in space.

"This holiday season, I find myself looking down at 'home' a lot," NASA astronaut Anne McClain wrote on Twitter just before the holiday Sunday (Dec. 23). She shared an amazing view of the Earth and moon from space with the message. "We really are all on this amazing, beautiful planet together – it truly is a small world. And when I watched the moon set over the horizon today, I once again found myself without words."

During the Apollo 8 moon mission on Dec. 25, 1968, NASA astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders finished up their historic first flight around the moon and began their journey back to Earth. That Christmas Eve, Anders snapped the iconic "Earthrise" photo showing planet Earth peeking over the lunar horizon.

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Happy holidays from space! NASA astronaut Anne McClain (right) and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency search for the Elf on the Shelf aboard the International Space Station in a Christmas 2018 video. Credit: NASA


Today, another crew of three will be spending the holiday in space. Currently living and working aboard the International Space Station are McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko. [Holidays in Space: An Astronaut Photo Album]

While McClain and Saint-Jacques get to enjoy the day off, Kononenko has "minimal duties" to carry out today, NASA spokesperson Dan Huot told Space.com in an email. "The only tasks on their schedule for Xmas besides meals and exercise are some blood and saliva sample draws for human research studies," Huot said.

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