Seven astronauts are celebrating the holiday season aboard the International Space Station, but that isn't stopping them from beaming some holiday cheer back to Earth.
The Expedition 64 crew members are taking the day off, but NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Kate Rubins, and Japanese space program astronaut Soichi Noguchi still took some time to send a message of "resilience" back home during a particularly difficult holiday season.
"Resilience" is also the name they gave to the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule that launched four of the astronauts to the space station last month.
"We selected that name in tribute to people around the world and to the teams that help make our mission possible during a year that changed all our lives," Hopkins said. "We'd also like to remember everyone we've lost this year."
"There couldn't be a more fitting name to describe 2020," Glover added. "The resilience of the human spirit is something that we can truly celebrate in this special season."
"As we prepare to observe the holidays far away from our loved ones, we look down at our precious planet, and it becomes clear how connected we really are," Walker said.
Hopkins, Glover, Walker and Noguchi launched to the station in November, joining Rubins as well as Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, who will all spend Christmas relaxing, calling family and friends and sharing a festive meal together.
"My family on the ground is definitely in my thoughts and in my prayers, and on my socks," Glover said in another video, pointing out his customized socks featuring pictures of family members. "But that also makes me think about all the folks who also aren't able to spend the holidays with their families," he added, thanking service members and health care workers during the pandemic.
Earlier this month, a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship arrived at the ISS with new supplies — including Christmas gifts and fixings. Roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, cornbread dressing, cherry blueberry cobbler, potatoes au gratin, cookies and other morsels for a seven-person holiday feast all arrived ahead of the holiday.
The holidays "mean the three F's — family, friends and food," Walker said.
Noguchi also received a special food item from a group of Japanese students from Wakasa High School: a small can of mackerel.
"We hope you are also able to take the opportunity to celebrate the holidays before we turn the calendar to a fresh year, with renewed hope and a spirit for the future," Noguchi said.
Rubins said that the crew is hosting a contest this Christmas against the Mission Control team at the Johnson Space Center — whichever team decorates their workstations with the best DIY decor from what they have on hand in space and in Mission Control, wins.
"I know you issued a challenge and let me just say, decorating Mission Control? Challenge accepted," NASA flight director Zebulon Scoville said, sporting a festive blazer and tie. "I may have to cut this coat up to turn it into something new."
Santa's sleigh made a special stop at the ISS his year for the first time, according to NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which "tracks" Santa's travels each year. The Federal Aviation Administration cleared Santa for the flight to space on Wednesday, granting him with a special commercial space license for a crewed mission to the ISS aboard his "StarSleigh-1 space capsule, powered by the Rudolph Rocket."
"Let's face it, 2020 was a difficult year and we all could use some special holiday cheer that only Santa can deliver," said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.