Space station crew prepares for Christmas feast in space

Commander Kevin Ford sends holiday greetings from the International Space Station (ISS) this week. A small, decorated tree is at upper right. Credit: NASA TV

As you prepare for Christmas company and dinner, consider the six astronauts spending the holiday 250 miles overhead. Thanks to Internet connectivity the crew will be able to visit with their families and even order last minute gifts if necessary.

A small, decorated tree is already up and the holiday menu is being planned. Forget Tang and astronaut ice cream, these guys will be eating well. Planning nutritious and tasty food keeps astronauts happy and healthy and is an important part of the space program for both NASA and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

Bags of International Space Station food and utensils on tray (2003). Velcro holds the items in place. Credit: NASA

While I can’t find a complete published menu for Christmas Day, the main course will likely be turkey and gravy with a dessert of peach ambrosia. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who arrived at the station last Friday, made sure he packed away some special foods he’ll be sharing with his crew mates in the coming months. These include candied wild smoked salmon, smoked salmon pate, cranberry buffalo sticks, cereal, dried apple chunks, fruit bars, green tea cookies with orange zest, maple syrup cookies, organic chocolate, honey drops, chocolate bars and maple syrup, according to a recent article in Universe Today.

Candied Wild Smoked Salmon brought to the ISS by astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Most foods are dehydrated and packed in plastic, so astronauts have to add hot or cold water from a rehydration station as a first step in food preparation.

Meats are exposed to radiation before they’re packed for the trip to space to increase their shelf life.¬†Because astronauts’ taste buds often go flat on long space missions, spicy foods are appreciated.

On his first flight to the Mir space station in 1995, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield brought a foldable SoloEtte guitar. He has a different guitar this time around and plans to strum a few Christmas carols. Credit: NASA

Hot meals take 20-30 minutes to cook in a forced-air convection oven. To keep the bags from floating away, they’re attached by fasteners to food trays, which can be then be attached to astronauts’ laps or a wall. Astronauts open the packages with scissors and chow down using traditional utensils.You can learn more about holiday eating in space HERE.

You might want to add a space station sighting to your holiday festivities. The bright bird will continue making evening passes for about the next week. Times below are for the Duluth, Minn. region. To spot it over your house, log on to Heavens Above or Spaceweather’s Satellite Flybys page. You can also get free alerts sent to your e-mail by signing up at NASA’s Spot the Station website.

Today Dec. 24 starting at 6:02 p.m. the ISS travels west to east across the northern sky
Tues. Dec. 25 at 5:12 p.m. ” ¬† ¬† ”
Weds. Dec. 26 at 5:58 p.m. straight across the top of the sky.
Thurs. Dec. 27 at 5:08 p.m. high across the northern sky. Passes almost directly in
front of Jupiter about 5:13 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 28 at 5:54 p.m. high across the southern sky.
Sat. Dec. 29 at 5:04 p.m. straight across the top of the sky.

One thought on “Space station crew prepares for Christmas feast in space

  1. I have to say it.. You have a special talent to write fresh and original articles about space. Fun and interesting matter at same time. It takes our memories back to the 2001 Space Odissey “icecream-like” food, and seeing that today’s reality is better than that, means that the progress about living in space is going better than predictions. Not so different than meals on flight companies. And well anyway, makes also appreciate more the fresh food eaten on Earth :)

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