Astronauts aboard the International Space Station celebrate Thanksgiving Day in microgravity, which is a bit different from what they are used to here on Earth. The space station will host seven crew members this holiday after the Crew-3 mission arrives on November 11.

"I'm going to do whatever I can to show how thankful I am for my crewmates," NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei said in a NASA video shared from the space station on Monday. "It's wonderful having all of these folks up here. We haven't been up here together that long, but wow it sure has been wonderful already."

 Thanksgiving in Space: This Is How Astronauts Celebrate the Holiday Aboard the International Space Station
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The six crewmembers of Expedition 50 celebrate Thanksgiving Day aboard the International Space Station on Nov. 24 with a traditional meal of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and vegetables — all from rehydrated packages brought to the station on resupply ships.


Thanksgiving Celebrations in Space

Astronauts have been celebrating holidays since the days of the Apollo mission. According to NASA, the first Thanksgiving in space was celebrated on November 22, 1973, by Skylab 4 astronauts who shared two meals at dinnertime. But it was not until November 23, 2000, when the first Thanksgiving in the ISS was celebrated.

Since then, astronauts aboard the space station have been celebrating the holiday every November. The largest Thanksgiving hosted in the ISS was in 2009, wherein 12 astronauts from the US, Russia, Belgium, and Canada celebrated the holiday in the space station.

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Celebrating Thanksgiving Aboard the ISS: Just Add Water

Given the conditions in low-Earth orbit, astronauts can not have the usual way of celebrating Thanksgiving or any holidays inside the space station. So, how do they host a Thanksgiving dinner in space?

Like their everyday food, their Thanksgiving dinner items were shipped to space in labeled foil packages, according to Space.com. More so, they only need to add water in their food packages in preparing them, unlike here on Earth that usually takes a lot of effort. Over the years, space veterans have shared their experience in the ISS, like NASA astronaut Dr. Andrew Morgan.

According to CNN, Morgan spent the entirety of the holiday in the space station in 2019 alongside crewmates Christina Koch, Jessica Meir, Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Skripochka, and Luca Parmitano.

Despite their busy schedule, they still find time to come together for a special meal that weekend and share what they were thankful for at that time. They shared packaged smoked turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, smoked salmon, and cranberry juice in terms of food. Morgan shared that the cranberry juice retained the shape of the can it came in, given the conditions they were in.

Meanwhile, the menu in 2020 Thanksgiving included cornbread dressing, smoked turkey, green beans, and mashed potato. Although Japan does not celebrate Thanksgiving, JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi also brought some Japanese party food with his crewmates. This included special seafood prepared by a Japanese high school student on Earth and curry rice and red bean rice.

Last year's celebration was also the second time NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins celebrated Thanksgiving Day in space. He said that the holiday means spending time with the family; the only difference is that he is spending it with his international family and felt very blessed for that experience.

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