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Space Station Crew Gets to Celebrate New Year's Eve 16 Times

NASA astronauts on the space station also sent down their New Year's greetings to Earth this week.

Recovering from one New Year’s Eve can be bad enough. Imagine experiencing 16 of them — all in one day. Such is the case for the crew on the International Space Station, which is in orbit about 220 miles above Earth. In one orbital day, as the space station zooms around the globe at 17,500 miles an hour, the crew will pass 16 times over a part of the planet where the clock is striking midnight. No need for a designated driver, however: Cmdr. Barry “Butch” Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, plan to celebrate with fruit juice toasts, NASA says. The new year starts officially for the crew at 7 p.m. EST Jan. 31, which is midnight by the Universal Time Clock (UTC), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). In a prerecorded video greeting from space, Wilmore and Virts sent best wishes from space. “Happy New Year’s and a safe New Year’s down there, and we’ll enjoy our 16 New Year’s Eve celebrations here on board the space station,” Virts said.

It’s not all fun and games. The crew spent much of New Year’s Eve day working on a variety of experiments and preparing for the arrival of the next cargo supply ship. Launch of the Dragon resupply vehicle on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is schedule for 6:20 a.m. EST Tuesday.



— James Eng