Christmas is in the air! Even in space! Astronauts aboard the International Space Station beamed their greetings for the holidays Monday, wishing everyone back on Earth a merry Christmas.
Mission commander Barry "Butch" Wilmore and flight engineer Terry Virts delivered the greeting in behalf of the crew. They were joined by a Christmas tree complete with trimmings, floating between the two astronauts as they delivered their message to people on Earth.
Aside from a floating Christmas tree, the astronauts also have Christmas stockings, allowing them to share in the gift-giving tradition despite being hundreds of miles away from their loved ones.
"This is definitely going to be a Christmas that we'll remember, getting a chance to see the beautiful Earth, and I hope that for you also it will be a memorable Christmas this year," said Virts.
A video of the Christmas greeting was uploaded by NASA to YouTube.
Alongside Wilmore and Virts, Elena Serova, Alexander Samokutyaev, Anton Shkaplerov and Samantha Cristoforetti are crew members of the current Expedition 42 mission.
The first ISS mission, Expedition 1, launched in Oct. 31, 2000 and docked at the space station on Nov. 2, 2000. Since then, the ISS has logged over 1.5 billion statute miles (the same as eight trips around the sun) throughout its 57,361 orbits around Earth and has seen 215 astronauts.
As more than just a moving lab in space, the ISS is also used by an assortment of international spacecraft. Since November 2014, the space station has facilitated 5 European automated transfer vehicles, 4 Japanese cargo transfer vehicles, a test flight each for Orbital Science's Cygnus and SpaceX's Dragon, 2 operational flights for Cygnus, 3 operational flights for Dragon, 37 Space Shuttle launches and 100 Russian launches.
Including its solar arrays (which provide between 75 and 90 kilowatts of power), the ISS is about as big as football field in the U.S. Extending all the way to end zones. Weighing 924,739 pounds, it is fitted with living spaces comparable to a six-bedroom house, two bathrooms, a gym and a bay window offering 360-degree views of the space station's surroundings. It took over 115 space flights involving five launch vehicles to get the ISS built.
The ISS is an international partnership among space agencies NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Roscosmos and the European Space Agency. Principals involved in its operation are the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia and Europe.