Spacefliers on the International Space Station will be getting the traditional Christmas turkey dinner, coming out of a not-so-traditional food storage pouch – but they’ll also be getting something extra, courtesy of French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
French chefs have prepared a spread of canned foods that kick space cuisine up a notch, including Normandy-style ox tongue, chicken supreme with morel mushrooms and apple gingerbread for dessert.
“I have enough for everybody on the crew,” Pesquet said.
NASA’s contributions to the feast include turkey, fruit salad, green beans and potatoes, cornbread stuffing, cran-apple cobbler and chocolate cake. But don’t expect the cake to come fresh out of the oven: The space station’s menu items are generally thermostabilized, canned or dehydrated.
NASA officially bans alcohol on the space station (while the Russians aren’t quite so strait-laced). So packaged cider and cocoa will serve for Christmas cheer around the station’s dinner table.
“Hot cocoa is one of my favorites, especially growing up in Iowa when you wanted to stay warm,” NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson said in this year’s NASA Christmas video.
This will be the second Christmas that Whitson has spent in orbit. The first came in 2007, during her second long-duration stint on the space station. By the time she returns to Earth next spring, she’ll be NASA’s most experienced astronaut, breaking the 534-day NASA record for cumulative time in space.
The Christmas dinner is a long-running tradition on the space station, which has been continuously occupied for 16 years. But Pesquet, a first-time spaceflier, said the holiday is about much more than the meal.
“I think Christmas is also a special time to remember that we should try to get along,” he said in a video made for the European Space Agency. “When we look at Earth through the window, we see that it’s just a whole. I hope that people can take that time to try to get along, understand each other, and simply make the world a better place.”
Whitson seconded that sentiment.
“Being on board the ISS gives us a slightly different perspective of Christmas,” she said. “Obviously friends and family are important to all of us, but besides funny hats, there is another very important aspect of being on ISS, and that’s seeing the planet as a whole. It actually reinforces, I think, the fact that we should live as one people and strive for peace.”
May we all have that perspective in the holiday season and beyond: