While Black Friday workers’ rights are a hot-button topic this year, the astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) will be getting the day off as well as a “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner. Jerry Carr, Bill Pogue and Ed Gibson were the first American’s to have Thanksgiving in space when they shared a meal on Skylab in 1973 but were also forced to work that day.
ISS Astronauts not Kmart workers get the day off
The ISS is presently in an orbit 250 miles above the surface of the Earth where hundreds of millions will be celebration a day of thanks. Barry “Butch” Wilmore, Terry Virts, and Samantha Cristoforetti will be “enjoying” smoked turkey, candied yams, green beans and mushrooms, cornbread stuffing and cherry-blueberry cobbler. It’s believed that other menu items will be added to the menu, and if they share their meal with the newly arrived Russians, presumably, borscht would also make it to the figurative table.
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“I’m from Tennessee, so I grew up drinking sweet tea — so I’ve got a little sweet tea as well,” Wilmore said in his Thanksgiving video. “So, we’re going to have all of that up here and try to share in the spirit of the season.”
Space (sweet) potatoes
All the food that will be involved in the spread are either thermostabilized (a process not unlike canning, where the food ends up in pouches) or freeze-dried. There are no ovens or microwaves on the ISS, so in order to enjoy a hot meal, hot water is used to both activate the items and heat them.
One item on the menu for tomorrow is quite unique to the space station, sweet potatoes. It’s believed that because of their high content of carbohydrates and beta-carotene they could someday be grown in space. Sweet potatoes can be grown with artificial lighting and any potential trip to Mars would mean that astronauts would need to grow their own food for a mission of that duration and the sweet potato and other items could prove ideal for the trip.