As we enter the holiday season, let’s see how the astronauts celebrate them on the ISS and How some historical missions have celebrated these holidays.
One of the most famous space missions to occur during the holidays was Apollo 8, which took place during Christmas 1968. Apollo 8 became being the first crewed spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit and the first to reach the Moon, orbit it, and return to Earth safely. It is worth noting that it was during this mission and the day before Christmas in 1968 that the famous Earthrise photograph was taken. During their ten orbits around the moon, the crew celebrated Christmas Eve with television broadcast in which they read the first ten verses from the Book of Genesis. The crew would later eat a Christmas dinner of hot cocoa, sugar cookies, corn chowder, chicken and gravy, and orange juice.
This brings up the question of how do modern astronauts celebrate holidays like Christmas and how will astronauts in the future celebrate these holidays?
On the ISS, the crew are given time off duty according to their respective culture, religion/faith and ethnicity. Everyone is given time to celebrate their traditions at their own times. Christmas dinner has evolved as a common tradition since 2000 as every Christmas has been experienced by a crew since then.
In regards to future Spaceflight, one has to believe that the allowed celebrations of holidays would be dependent on the available supplies and what celebrations can be allowed. Many holidays are celebrated with a meal; however, for those traditions that be more elaborate would not necessarily be done by astronauts. This would be a result of many reasons including potential safety risks, not enough space to perform the rituals, or other reasons. That said, it would be nice to see future astronauts being able to perform their own holiday rituals in some form. As more nations become space faring, it makes sense that their astronauts would perform some holiday rituals in space.
Fun Fact: To have your Christmas Lights spotted from space, one would need to live in an area relatively free of light pollution and use 2,673 LED lights.