A Christmas out of this world! Cheerful photos show how astronauts celebrate the holidays with stockings and trees made from leftover food containers on NASA space stations
- The Apollo 8 mission in 1968 was the first time humans spent Christmas in space and hosted a live broadcast on Christmas Eve morning
- It wasn’t until 1973 that astronauts first celebrated Christmas on a NASA space station, Skylab, which also saw the first Christmas tree in space.
- The tree was made from leftover food and used colorful decals as ornaments
- From there, astronauts had artificial and real Christmas trees, hung stockings in doorways, and even threw a flaming Yule log inside the International Space Station.
More than 200 miles above the Earth’s surface, astronauts enjoy a Christmas out of this world celebration.
The space heroes may have had many vacations away from friends and family, but brought joy to their tight quarters with Christmas trees, stockings hanging from doorways and a yule log thrown inside of international space station (ISS).
The Apollo 8 mission in 1968 was the first crew to spend the holidays in space and celebrated by broadcasting the first image of Earth at home, as well as a live broadcast on Christmas Eve morning.
The first Christmas tree in space: Astronauts Gerald P. Carr, William R. Pogue and Edward G. Gibson spent the holidays aboard NASA Skylab in 1973, which was America’s first space station. The crew assembled a tree using leftover food containers and decorated it with colorful decals
Commander Frank Borman spoke on the show, describing the moon as “vast”, “lonely” and “forbidding”, but “makes you realize exactly what you have there on Earth”.
And five years later, humans celebrated the first vacation aboard a space station.
Three crew members of the 1973 Skylab 4 mission, a research platform in low Earth orbit, built a Christmas tree using leftover food containers, finished it with colorful decals like ornaments and topped it with a cardboard cutout in the shape of a comet.
The tradition has since continued through the decades as astronauts spend the holidays singing Christmas carols, exchanging gifts and watching holiday movies in hopes of bringing joy to the final frontier. .
Swinging around the Christmas tree: The makeshift tree branches were attached to a pole fixed to the ground because there was no gravity inside the station. And at the top was a cardboard cutout in the shape of a comet
Decorate the hallways: Expedition 34, which occupied the ISS in 2012, had a real Christmas tree for the holidays, which it decorated with sparkling pom poms and hung stockings inside a door. NASA’s Kevin Ford brought his guitar for space travel and played it on Christmas Day
The First Christmas: The first Christmas spent in space was in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission. The crew, Frank Borman, James Lovell Jr. and William Anders, shared the first image of Earth known since as of “blue marble”. Borman spoke on a live broadcast from space on Christmas Eve morning and described how lonely the moon is
Christmas time has arrived: Kayla Barron shows off gifts she wrapped for her six teammates on Expedition 66 in 2021
Santa Claus arrives on the ISS: Crew members always wear festive hats on Christmas Day, and because the station is weightless, the tips of the hats stick up straight. Pre-holiday resupply missions brought astronauts an artificial Christmas tree. Pictured are the Expedition 30 crew in 2011
Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated in space: The Hubble Space Telescope’s first servicing mission was launched aboard Space Shuttle Endeavor in 1993, and Mission Specialist Jeffery Hoffman was the first person to celebrate Hanukkah on a spaceship. He brought a little spinning top that was floating inside the craft
Expedition 24 Flight Engineer and NASA Astronaut David A. Wolf took a photo with his menorah and dreidel to celebrate Hanukkah in 1997. The crew also had a small Christmas tree and dressed in a costume astronaut to look like Santa Claus.
Say Merry Christmas: NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts share the ISS and spend the holidays together. Valeri I. Tokarev of Roscosmos (left) and NASA astronaut William McArthur of the expedition took a festive photo of themselves holding stockings while they were both on the ISS in 2005
It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas in space: Santa hats are worn every year at Christmas. In 2006, NASA’s Michael Lopez-Alegria and Sunita Williams and Russia’s Mikhail Tyurin showed off the hats in a photo
Silent Night: A projection of a yule log was displayed on the ISS in 2020. The fiery images with stockings hanging overhead made it feel like home for the astronauts who spent the holidays in 250 miles above the Earth’s surface.