Three astronauts aboard the International Space Station are gearing up to celebrate Halloween in orbit, even though visitors and treats for the orbiting outpost will arrive too late for the fun holiday.
"There is a bag of some of the personal items up here that crews have brought up in the past," space station commander Mike Fossum of NASA said during an in-flight interview with SPACE.com Oct. 19. "Right on the top are the Christmas-kind of items. I'm going to look underneath that and see if we have some masks or something we can have a little fun with that day."
Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa of Japan and Sergei Volkov of Russia will oversee the arrival of a robotic cargo ship packed full of food and supplies, but it won't reach them until Nov. 2. The Russian Progress 45 freighter will launch from the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Sunday (Oct. 30), the day before Halloween. [Haunting Photos: The Spookiest Nebulas in Space]
Fossum, Furukawa and Volkov have been living and working on the massive orbiting complex since June. They expect to return to Earth Nov. 21, though not before sharing the station with three new Expedition 29 crew members for almost a week.
NASA astronaut Dan Burbank and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin are slated to launch from the Baikonour Cosmodrome Nov. 13 and dock at the orbiting outpost two days later.
The six-person team of astronauts and scientists had been living in the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory, about 3½ miles off Key Largo, Fla., and 60 feet (18 meters) below the surface, since Oct. 20. The "aquanauts" were forced to return to the surface before the completion of their 13-day research mission.Another group of astronauts was set to celebrate Halloween in very different surroundings, at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, until their mission was aborted Wednesday (Oct. 26) due to safety concerns from Hurricane Rina.
NASA's Shannon Walker, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi, planetary scientist Steve Squyres and two veteran divers, James Talacek and Nate Bender of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, were taking part in the 15th expedition of NASA's Extreme Environment Mission Operations, or NEEMO.
The mission was the first to test concepts for how to explore an asteroid and perform science experiments on its surface. The aquanauts experimented with different ways to maneuver on a mock asteroid landscape that was built on the ocean floor.
Before their mission was cut short, the aquanauts were in a festive mood and joked about their Halloween plans with SPACE.com during an interview Monday (Oct. 24) from the Aquarius habitat.
"I hope we get trick-or-treaters," Walker said. "We have candy."
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Denise Chow is a former Space.com staff writer who then worked as assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. She spent two years with Space.com, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions, before joining the Live Science team in 2013. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University. At NBC News, Denise covers general science and climate change.