Christmas on the ISS: Poison gas to presents by starship

Your idea of a chaotic Christmas might conjure up memories of missed Amazon deliveries, traffic jams and gifts arriving after December 25th.

But what if you had to have your presents delivered by space shuttle? What if, instead of fighting your siblings for a turkey leg, you had to battle a poison gas leak high above the Earth?

That's the reality for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) who don't get home to see their families on the most important holiday of the year.

However they still make time to celebrate, decking the interior with tinsel, donning Santa hats and even breaking out a guitar for a sing-along.

And just as this year has brought grave challenges for families living under the coronavirus restrictions, brave pioneers aboard the ISS have had their fair share of extraordinary circumstances.

Such was the case on December 24, 2013, when astronauts undertook the second ever Christmas Eve space walk in history.

They were forced to do so after a faulty cooling system began spewing noxious ammonia and battled a mini-blizzard to restore the network, as Leaker.com reported at the time.

Three years later, a NASA crew had a much more pleasant, but utterly bizarre, experience.

They marked Christmas in micro-gravity, floating about the vessel and unwrapping gifts that had been carried on a Japanese cargo spacecraft, according to Space.com.

Celebrations aboard the ISS are as much a tradition as they are down on the Blue Planet, and have been held every single year since 2000.

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Expedition 1 had arrived on the station just weeks earlier and the ISS has been continuously occupied ever since.

And it's not just Christmas that's celebrated aboard the station, as NASA introduced a policy of allowing space parties to mark important calendar dates for crew members no matter their nationality or creed.

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