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Six people celebrated the New Year in space

Domagoj Valjak
The International Space Station on 23 May 2010 as seen from the departing Space Shuttle Atlantis during STS-132.
The International Space Station on 23 May 2010 as seen from the departing Space Shuttle Atlantis during STS-132.

Most people celebrate the New Year in a festive and friendly place while enjoying traditional foods, huge quantities of various drinks and good company.

On the other hand, some people are forced to spend the New Year’s Eve in extreme environments dictated by their line of work or some unfavorable circumstances. However, none of these circumstances can match floating 250 miles above the Earth in the cold vacuum, while the Earth, our Blue Marble, quietly rests surrounded by the vastness of space.

The Blue Marble—Earth as seen by Apollo 17 in 1972.

The Blue Marble—Earth as seen from Apollo 17 in 1972.

These are the exact circumstances in which the six people inside the International Space Station spent their New Year’s Eve. Although the dwellers of the space laboratory have their regular daily maintenance duties to perform, they were allowed a longer New Year’s weekend. NBC News spoke to NASA spokesman Daniel Huot, who stated that “since New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day fall on a weekend, the group will get a three day weekend, having Monday, January 2 as a vacation.”

The celebration in space wasn’t anything like our regular Earth-bound celebrations, the International Space Station has a limited amount of storage, which is mostly used to store equipment and supplies, so there is certainly not much space for holiday props. Also, the astronauts are on a special diet which helps them conserve energy and stay in shape, so they weren’t munching on traditional treats. Sadly, alcohol is currently forbidden in space too, so the crew probably had to find a substitute for the traditional New Year’s champagne.

The International Space Station on 23 May 2010 as seen from the departing Space Shuttle Atlantis during STS-132.

The International Space Station on 23 May 2010, as seen from the departing Space Shuttle Atlantis during STS-132.

 

Expedition 8 Commander and Science Officer Michael Foale conducts an inspection of the Microgravity Science Glovebox.

Expedition 8 Commander and Science Officer Michael Foale conducts an inspection of the Microgravity Science Glovebox.

The International Space Station is a multinational habitable space station that has been orbiting the Earth for 18 years. It serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology.

An astronomical amount of knowledge and skill is necessary to safely maneuver and maintain the space station, so the crew are following a strict protocol and cannot leave anything to chance.

The Cupola arrived in 2010.

The Cupola arrived in 2010.

“The six astronauts who live and work on board the laboratory operate on Greenwich Mean Time, so they’ll officially welcome 2017 at the same time as the United Kingdom”, NBC News reports.

Read another story from us: The New Year’s Eve ball dropping symbolizes time balls used for maritime navigation

Perhaps one of the astronauts gazed out of the windows of the station’s dome, The Cupola, which was added to the station in 2010. Perhaps he looked at the Earth and tried to catch a glimpse of some fireworks.