A new year is rising in space.
Seven Expedition 68 crew members celebrated their 2023 arrival aboard the International Space Station in holiday style, including Santa hats, streamers and a customized Orthodox Christmas tree ahead of Russian festivities Jan. 6.
“Just like at home, we have a tradition of putting up a New Year tree and decorating the interior of the space station to celebrate the New Year. Today, we’ll show you how to do it in zero-gravity conditions,” Russian cosmonaut
Sergei Prokopyev said in a video message from Roscosmos (opens in new tab) on Thursday (29 December), with translation provided by state media provider TASS (opens in new tab),
In addition to Prokopyev, Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Anna Kikina wore tiny ornaments and acrobats under colorful banners with the words “New Year” in Cyrillic. Holiday cheer spread to the US side of the orbiting complex as well.
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Russian cosmonauts usher in the MKS in Russia in the new year:https://t.co/iehc5iNMNBVideo: Роскосмос pic.twitter.com/0XMblQ0JClDecember 29, 2022
In a NASA video uploaded last week, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata vows to take an image of the first orbital sunrise of 2023 in one of the nearby modules, the ISS Kibo module provided by Japan.
US astronauts are keeping quiet on social media during the holiday season, but in the meantime, NASA uploaded some photos to Flickr (opens in new tab) The crew float around the space station with Santa hats, stockings and holiday sweaters.
The Expedition 68 crew will have a busy early 2023, when Russia determines what to do with the Soyuz spacecraft, which suddenly began leaking coolant on December 15. There is no immediate danger to the space station crew, but it is unclear whether the Soyuz spacecraft, called MS-22, can return Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio back to Earth as planned.
Russia has reportedly promised to make its “final decision” in January on whether to send a rescue Soyuz (which won’t arrive until February) or bring the three affected crew members home aboard Soyuz MS-22.
NASA has also reached out to SpaceX to see if it would be possible to bring the trio home in a Crew Dragon spacecraft if no other backup is available. The Dragon Endeavor is docked to the space station now, but it is nominally full as it sets out to bring Mana, Kasada, Wakata and Kikina back to Earth.
The cause of the Soyuz leak has yet to be determined, but follow-up scans of the spacecraft revealed a hole in the radiator that may have been from a micrometeoroid, or a piece of space debris too small to track. The three Soyuz MS-22 crew members could meanwhile be without a lifeboat in case of an emergency on the ISS.
Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of “why am i tall (opens in new tab)?” (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow him on Twitter @howlspace (opens in new tab), Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) Or Facebook (opens in new tab),