Halloween in Space: A Vampire Astronaut and Nightmare in Orbit

Clayton Anderson in Vampire Cape
Clayton Anderson was known for unusual pastimes during his long-duration space mission in 2007 — here, he portrayed an eerie spacebound vampire over the course of the day. (Image credit: Clayton C. Anderson)

You might masquerade as an astronaut for Halloween, but what about when astronauts dress up? Here's how one spacefarer celebrated the spooky season.

In search of eerie holiday cheer, Space.com caught up with retired astronaut Clayton Anderson to hear about his dedication to Halloween garb. (We also checked in with NASA for any current space station celebration plans and uncovered one terrifying tweet.)

"It was Halloween," Anderson recounted. The year was 2007, and Anderson was in the midst of a 5-month stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the ISS Expedition 15 crew. "My wife had sent a vampire cape up with Pam Melroy and the STS-120 crew, and on Halloween day, when I found out I had a cape like that, I said, 'Oh, I know what I'm doing today.'" [The Best Scary Movies That Take Place in Space]

Another NASA astronaut who'd arrived just a few days before, Dan Tani, posed for a few photos as a pirate, but only Anderson endured a full day of festivities by wearing the strangely floating cape through all his daily tasks (mostly power drill ops, he said — and the main problem was that the cape would fly into his face). His exploits even made the Houston Chronicle newspaper.

At the time of writing, Scott Kelly has also posted a horrifying video tweet, cheerfully wishing Earthbound followers a safe holiday.

Good to see he's well-rested and his and Kjell Lindgren's first ever spacewalks Wednesday, Oct. 28. No response from Lindgren's twitter as of yet. Kelly just broke the record for the longest single spaceflight over the course of his year-long mission, clocking 218 days in orbit before this terrible metamorphosis.

Two years ago, astronaut Luca Parmitano donned a Superman outfit for the holiday "to help him fly better aboard the ISS," and in 2011 the space station astronauts planned to check for any Halloween items previously sent up, even though their own shipment wouldn't arrive until Nov. 2.

"The whole idea was, you need to make it interesting for people on Earth," Anderson said. "And if they see astronauts doing experiments, it's pretty basic stuff. But if they see a dude floating around in a vampire cape, they'll go 'What's he doing?' I was kind of famous for the 'What's he doing?' part." (Read more about Anderson's antics in our recent Q&A on his new memoir, "The Ordinary Spaceman.")

To celebrate here on Earth, space fans can check out a list of science-themed costumes or watch a stadium-size Halloween asteroid fly by.

Email Sarah Lewin at slewin@space.com or follow her @SarahExplains. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Sarah Lewin
Associate Editor

Sarah Lewin started writing for Space.com in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.