While the new year is an opportunity for celebration around the world, it seems that our astronauts will also celebrate the coming of 2018 with their own traditions on the International Space Station. The New Year in space is a different yet still very exciting opportunity to reflect on the past year and look forward to what the next 365 days has to offer.
A Holiday Video
A new video released by NASA shows some of the current residents of the space station, and gives these astronauts an opportunity to share both their routine for the New Year in space as well as talk about some of the traditions they’ve built up from the time they were children to their current status as spacewalking scientists and explorers.
“In Japan, in the morning on New Year’s Day, people go out and watch the first sunlight…I have a memory with my father of walking in a very, very cold early morning in Tokyo to watch the first sunrise [of the year]. It’s a fond memory for me.” said the Japanese astronaut and engineer Norishige Kanaisaid.
While the first day in 2018 will be signaled by the first sunrise, marking when exactly the day begins for a New Year in Space is a little more complicated. Space.com reports that The International Space Station is in a constant orbit around Earth at incredible speeds, traveling at around 17500 mph and completing a full rotation every 92 minutes. As such, astronauts on the International Space Station will get to experience the New Year in space several times, as they experience between 15 and 16 sunrises and sunsets each single day. Back in 2015, the station crewmembers actually decided that they’d celebrate the New Year in space with each of the “midnights” they experience. In turns out the New Year in space may actually be a bigger celebration than we have here on earth – or at least a longer one.
NASA astronaut and flight engineer Joe Acaba will be celebrating the New Year in space with a bowl of vegetarian chili, comparing it to his father’s famous recipe that he’d have every New Year while growing up.
“The big treat for staying up that late was my dad’s chili…We’ll see what we do up here [on the space station], if I can even stay up that late. I think we have vegetarian chili, and we’ll see how that competes.”
For the Russians, the New Year in space may be celebrated at a different time. Anton Shkaplerov and station commander Alexander Misurkin may observe the new year on January 7th, which is Christmas Day in the Russian Orthodox Church. Thankfully, January 7th falls on a Sunday – so the crewmembers on the International Space Station will have the day off.
A New Year in Space, A New Year On Earth
Whether the crew members are celebrating the New Year in space with 16 celebrations or enjoying a bowl of chili, it’s clear that escaping Earth does not necessarily mean abandoning nutrition. As we celebrate the New Year, let’s remember the astronauts and engineers that are celebrating the New Year in space right alongside us. Being so far away from home and family is no doubt a sometimes lonely experience, but tradition and fond memories should carry these space explorers through into a happy and productive 2018.