For Christmas 2017, NASA has granted astronauts onboard the International Space Station a special long weekend.
Expedition 54 currently has three American crew members namely, Joe Acaba, Mark Vande Hei, and Scott Tingle. Their daily routine normally includes conducting scientific investigations or experiments. However, on Dec. 25, they spent the day calling home, opening gifts under an artificial tree, and watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
This year marks Tingle's first Space Station Christmas. The astronaut arrived on Dec. 19 for a 6-month mission. He was delivered by the Russian-built Soyuz along with Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
American Expedition 54 Crew Members Share Christmas Dinner, Movie Night
In one report, NASA Spokesman Dan Huot offers an insight as to how the Americans aboard the ISS could have celebrated Christmas Eve. He reveals that after unwrapping their presents, the astronauts are likely to share a special dinner together.
Each year, preparations are made for such feast. In Christmas 2016, the crew had turkey with cornbread stuffing as well as traditional treats including gingerbread cookie treats and hot cocoa. The menu for this year has not been announced.
However, the Christmas dinner was not the focal point of this year's festivities. What caught the media's attention is the movie night which Vande Hei shared through Twitter. His tweet shows a photo of the three astronauts with two other crew members watching the latest installment of Star Wars saga while secured to their seats and enjoying drinks in a special bag.
Such event has been highly-anticipated as NASA announced on Dec. 19 the movie's premiere in the ISS but with no specific date. The statement only says it would happen soon and that station commander Scott Kelly is already excited about it.
The Last Jedi Posts As Second Star Wars Film To Make ISS Premiere
In 2015, Disney sent a copy of Star Wars: The Force Awakens into the ISS through mission control at Houston's Johnson Space Center. There was no special occasion during the movie screening. It was simply for the crew's entertainment.
Movie nights are among the few forms of entertainment available to the Station's crew. Watching television shows is also another favorite, as indicated in a NASA document answering frequently asked questions. Apparently, crew members could request mission control to send them a show of their choice that they usually enjoy over dinner or while off-duty.
A number of movies and shows are readily available onboard. Using his Freedom of Information, a reporter requested for a complete list, which includes plenty of science-fiction films like Aliens and Guardians of the Galaxy. It also includes a number of classics like North by Northwest and all movies of the Godfather series.