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Astronauts celebrate Christmas aboard the ISS

Posted December 25, 2016

— Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are enjoying a rare two-day weekend.

Flight engineer Peggy Whitson and Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA, French European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet and cosmonauts Andrei Orisenko and Sergei Ryzhikov are sharing their Christmas traditions aboard the space station on Christmas Day. They will get Monday (Dec. 26) off as well since Sunday is their normal day off.

In a Christmas message from the NASA and ESA astronauts, Whitson talked of the unique perspective their home 250 miles above us provides. “Seeing the planet as a whole reinforces that we should live as one people and strive for peace," she said.

Delicacies arrived aboard a Japanese HTV-6 on Dec. 13 among 4.5 tons of supplies and hardware. Like any well-planned holiday list, batteries were included. A series of space walks are planned for early January to install these lithium-ion batteries.

Like many meals aboard station, Christmas dinner will be shared. French chefs prepared treats especially for Pesquet: chicken with morels and ox tongue. NASA astronauts will be sharing hot cocoa and cider, turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing and fruit salad. The crew also enjoyed gingerbread, cran-apple cobbler and chocolate cake for dessert.

The smorgasbord is precooked and thermostabilized. ESA and Russian contributions are canned, and NASA's items are dehydrated and stored in sealed pouches. Astronauts dial up the amount of water needed on the Potable Water Dispenser installed in a wall of Destiny module, insert a needle into the pouch, press the hot water button and enjoy.

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