A new year is rising into space.
The seven members of the Expedition 68 crew celebrated the 2023 arrival of the International Space Station in festive style, including Santa hats, streamers and a custom Orthodox Christmas tree ahead of the Russian holiday on January 6.
“Just like back home, we have a tradition here to put up a New Year’s tree and decorate the interior of the space station to celebrate the New Year. Today, we’ll show you how to do it in zero gravity,” Russian cosmonaut
Sergei Prokopiev said in a video from Roscosmos (opens in new tab) on Thursday (December 29), with translation provided by state media provider TASS (opens in new tab).
Next to Prokopiev, Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Anna Kikina put on tiny ornaments and did somersaults, all under a colorful banner with the words “New Year” in Cyrillic. The holiday cheer also spread to the American side of the orbiting band.
Related: No chimney? No problem! How Santa will visit astronauts on the International Space Station (video)
Российские космонавты в везомости decorations or МКС по Новый год:https://t.co/iehc5iNMNBVideo: Роскосмос pic.twitter.com/0XMblQ0JClDecember 29, 2022
In a NASA video uploaded last week, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata committed to capturing an image of the first orbital sunrise of 2023 in one of the nearby modules on the ISS Kibo module, also provided by Japan.
US astronauts have been quiet on social media over the holiday season, but in the meantime, NASA has uploaded some photos to Flickr (opens in new tab) of the crew floating around the space station in Santa hats, stockings and holiday sweaters.
It’s going to be a busy early 2023 for the Expedition 68 crew after Russia decides what to do with a Soyuz spacecraft that suddenly started leaking coolant on Dec. 15. There is no immediate danger to the space station crew, but it is unclear whether the Soyuz, called MS-22, can bring Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio back to Earth as planned.
Russia pledged its “final decision” in January on whether to send a rescue Soyuz (which wouldn’t arrive until February) or bring the three stricken crew members aboard Soyuz MS-22, according to reports.
NASA has also contacted SpaceX to see if it would be possible to bring the trio home in a Crew Dragon spacecraft if there is no other backup. The Dragon Endeavor is currently docked at the space station, but is nominally full as it is scheduled to bring Mann, Cassada, Wakata, and Kikina back to Earth.
The cause of the Soyuz leak has yet to be determined, but follow-up scans of the spacecraft revealed a hole in the cooler that may have come from a micrometeoroid or piece of space debris too small to detect. The three members of the Soyuz MS-22 crew may be without a lifeboat in the meantime, in the event of an emergency on the ISS.
Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of “Because I’m taller (opens in new tab)?” (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) the Facebook (opens in new tab).