How Astronauts Celebrate Christmas in Space: Vacation Photos Out of This World
A Christmas out of this world! Cheerful photos show astronauts celebrating the holidays with stockings and trees made from leftover food containers on NASA’s space stations
- The Apollo 8 mission in 1968 marked the first time humans spent Christmas in space and hosted a live broadcast on Christmas Eve morning
- It wasn’t until 1973 that astronauts celebrated Christmas for the first time on a NASA space station, Skylab, which also saw the first Christmas tree in space
- The tree was made using leftover food containers and used colored decals as ornaments
- From there, astronauts have had artificial and real Christmas trees, hung stockings in doorways, and even projected a fiery block of Christmas onto the interior of the International Space Station.
More than 200 miles above the Earth’s surface, astronauts enjoy a Christmas celebration out of this world.
Spacefaring heroes may have spent many vacations away from friends and family, but they’ve brought joy to their cramped quarters with Christmas trees, stockings hanging from doorways, and a Yule block projected onto the inside of space. International Space Station (ISS).
The Apollo 8 mission in 1968 was the first crew to spend the holiday in space and celebrated by broadcasting the first image of Earth at home along with a live broadcast on Christmas Eve morning.
The first Christmas tree in space: Astronauts Gerald P. Carr, William R. Pogue and Edward G. Gibson spent the holidays aboard NASA’s Skylab in 1973, America’s first space station. The crew assembled a tree using leftover food containers and decorated it with colored decals
Commander Frank Borman spoke during the broadcast, describing the moon as a “huge,” “lonely,” and “ominous” but “makes you realize what you’ve got there on Earth.”
And five years later, people celebrated the first holiday aboard a space station.
Three crew members of the 1973 Skylab 4 mission, a research platform in low Earth orbit, built a Christmas tree from leftover food containers, decorated it with colored decals as ornaments, and covered it with a cardboard cutout in the shape of a comet.
The tradition has continued over the decades since then, as astronauts spend the holidays singing Christmas carols, exchanging gifts and watching holiday movies in hopes of brightening up the final frontier.
Rockin’ around the Christmas tree: The improvised tree branches were attached to a pole that was attached to the floor, as there was no gravity in the station. And at the top was a cardboard cutout in the shape of a comet
Deck out the corridors: Expedition 34, which occupied the ISS in 2012, had a real Christmas tree for the holidays, which they decorated with sparkling pompoms, and stockings hung in a doorway. NASA’s Kevin Ford took his guitar for the trip to space and played it on Christmas Day
The first noel: The first Christmas in space was in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission. The crew, Frank Borman, James Lovell Jr. and William Anders, shared the first photo of Earth that has since become known as the “Blue Marble.” Speaking on a live broadcast from space on Christmas Eve morning, Borman described how lonely the moon is
Christmas time is here: Kayla Barron shows off presents she wrapped for her six crew members in 2021 on Expedition 66
Santa Claus is coming to the ISS: on Christmas Day, crew members always wear festive hats, and because the station has no gravity, the tip of the hat is upright. Holiday supply missions brought astronauts an artificial Christmas tree. Pictured is the crew of Expedition 30 in 2011
Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated in space: The first Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission launched aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 1993, and mission specialist Jeffery Hoffman was the first person to celebrate Hanukkah on a spacecraft. He took with him a small dreidel that floated in the craft
Expedition 24 flight engineer and NASA astronaut David A. Wolf took a photo with his menorah and dreidel to celebrate Hanukkah in 1997. The crew also had a small Christmas tree and dressed in an astronaut suit to look like Santa Claus
Say Merry Christmas: NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts share the ISS and spend the holidays together. Valeri I. Tokarev of Roscosmos (left) and NASA astronaut William McArthur of Expedition snapped a celebratory photo of them wearing stockings while both aboard the ISS in 2005
It’s starting to look more and more like Christmas in space: Santa hats are worn annually at Christmas. In 2006, NASA’s Michael Lopez-Alegria and Sunita Williams and Russia’s Mikhail Tyurin showed the hats in a photo
Silent Night: In 2020, a projection of a Yule log on the ISS was shown. The fiery images with stockings hanging above gave the feeling of home to astronauts who spent the holiday 400 kilometers above the earth’s surface
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