By ROBERT FROST
December 31, 2017
“The crew live on GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), which means their new years day begins at the same time as for the people of Britain. They will likely be long asleep when the crystal ball drops in New York’s Times Square, or an hour later when the Moon Pie drops in Mobile, Alabama.“
There are sixteen sunrises during each calendar day, for the ISS crew, and they will pass over many locations at the point the new year begins, so a good question might be – when do the crew celebrate the new year?
The crew live on GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), which means their new years day begins at the same time as for the people of Britain. They will likely be long asleep when the crystal ball drops in New York’s Times Square, or an hour later when the Moon Pie drops in Mobile, Alabama.
New Year’s Eve is not a day off for the crew. Whether or not New Year’s Day is a holiday depends on a pre-launch choice of each crew. The ISS crew are eligible for eight holidays per year (so four holidays for each six month crew).
Depending on the nationality mix of a particular crew, there are a lot of holidays to choose from between November and January.
So the crew may find themselves busy on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, in addition to their typical work, they may be requested to support a greater than usual number of PAO (public affairs office) activities from each space agency. Short video greetings shown during New Years activities, such as on the big screen at Times Square, are great opportunities for public outreach. Some of these are recorded in advance.
As for actual celebration, there will be no champagne, real or faux (carbonated beverages become undrinkable foam in microgravity). There will be no fireworks (although if conditions are just right, the crew might see the flashes of light from large ground celebrations).
On-board celebrations are usually gatherings of the crew to share a meal – often sharing their favorite native foods with the crew from other countries, or sharing treats that were in a care package from a recent cargo vehicle. Depending on the crew, celebrations might include musical performances and singing.
There are some musical instruments on-board. The crew will also likely take advantage of the Internet phone application to call their loved ones on the ground. They may also watch video greetings uplinked to them.