Astronauts on board the International Space Station will be feasting on a special Christmas dinner this year.
Billionaire* businessman Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX shipped a delivery of Christmas goodies to the ISS that arrived in plenty of time for the big day.
The Dragon capsule* carrying the feast launched from Florida, US, in the first week of December.
The journey to the ISS took three days. When it arrived astronaut Alexander Gerst used the ISS’s giant robotic arm to grab the cargo* and bring it on board.
NASA and SpaceX — which worked together on the delivery — had a failed first attempt because of difficulties with communication equipment. The second try was successful.
The Christmas hamper contains all the ingredients for a proper Christmas lunch.
Astronauts will be tucking into smoked turkey, a green bean casserole, candied* yams*, cranberry sauce and fruitcake.
There’ll also be shortbread and butter cookies, which come with tubes of icing to decorate the biscuits with.
The ISS won’t be as crowded as usual this Christmas.
Three astronauts are returning to Earth for the holidays, leaving the ISS on December 20, leaving just three astronauts on board the ISS.
This year is the 19th December in a row that astronauts have been on board the ISS during the Christmas holidays.
Astronauts dress up in Santa hats, decorate the ISS with a small Christmas tree and stockings and enjoy a space-friendly Christmas lunch.
Much of the menu is made up of vacuum-packed*, dehydrated* food, prepared by adding water and heat in space.
Food spills can damage equipment, so the astronauts have to be careful.
They’ll use a specialised piece of equipment called the space food rehydrator*, which uses water left over as a by-product of the space station’s fuel cells.
Astronauts can also enjoy tomato ketchup*, mayonnaise and mustard, as well as salt and pepper.
However, the salt and pepper are suspended* in liquid to make sure the particles* don’t float off into the air and clog up any equipment.
The Christmas delivery didn’t only contain food, however.
NASA and SpaceX also sent up 40 mice and 36,000 worms, which will be used for ageing and muscle studies.
- billionaire: has billions of dollars
- capsule: small sealed compartment
- cargo: load of supplies
- candied: preserved in sugar
- yams: starchy vegetable
- vacuum packed: has all the air taken out of the packet
- dehydrated: dried
- rehydrator: puts water back into dried things
- ketchup: American-style sauce
- suspended: floating in
- particles: tiny bits
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
- Who sent the Christmas food? Why that person?
- How did it get there? How long did it take?
- Name some of the foods.
- Will the food be fresh? How will the astronauts get it ready to eat?
- What else arrived in this cargo load? Why?
1. A Spacey Christmas
Work with a partner and choose a well-known Christmas carol such as Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and adapt the song lyrics to reflect what Christmas looks like for the astronauts on the International Space Station.
If you’re brave enough, perform your carol to the class!
How do you think the mice and worms will contribute to space research?
Time: Allow 25 minutes
Curriculum links: The Arts/Music, Science, English
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many connectives as you can find in pink. Discuss if these are being used as conjunctions, or to join ideas and create flow.
HAVE YOUR SAY: What would you like to try eating on the ISS? Why?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking.