NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts have sent their Christmas wishes to Earth via a video link from the International Space Station.

Wilmore has been on board since late September, while Virts arrived in late November. The two fathers used one of their weekly video links to communicate with their families and the rest of mankind from their position in orbit far above the Earth.

NASA Astronauts Send Christmas Greetings From ISS

NASA astronauts maintaining contact with families

Despite the great distance between them and their families, the two men are still able to watch their children grow thanks to NASA.

“They afford us the opportunity to do video links once a week,” said Wilmore on “CBS This Morning” this Tuesday. “It’s fantastic to see them, and my daughters are seven and 10, so actually see them change and lose teeth and whatnot from here, it’s very unique and it’s a very good thing that NASA does.”

The video shows the two astronauts getting into the Christmas spirit, with Wilmore wearing elf shoes while an upside-down Christmas tree can be seen floating behind Virts.

“We’ve got some stockings. Butch got each crew member a stocking out in the U.S. lab, we have some Santa hats and some other gear…” Virts said. “We’ve got some turkey and mashed potatoes in the kitchen. So we got some traditional Christmas stuff here.”

Important research

Getting in the mood for Christmas is just a sideshow compared to the main purpose of their presence on the ISS. After the festivities are over, the pair will continue working with the rest of the crew to carry out hundreds of experiments in the fields of biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.

Another important part of their time in space is to prepare for missions outside the space station. “Butch and I are going to go out and prepare the station for future American crewed vehicles,” continued Virts. “In February we’re doing these space walks and these vehicles will be flying in the next few years, we hope.”

Optimistic predictions of crewed vehicles reaching the Moon, and even Mars, have been rife of late, and the work of Wilmore and Virts is crucial to the development of these projects.