Skip to main content

Astronauts Observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Space

Earth from the ISS for World Photography Day
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted this photo of the Earth taken on the International Space Station, August 19, 2015. (Image credit: Scott Kelly (via Twitter as ‏@StationCDRKelly))

Like their cohort on the ground, astronauts aboard the U.S. segment of the International Space Station will take a day off today (Jan. 18) to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra and European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station, will be off-duty today, NASA spokesman Dan Huot told

The three cosmonauts aboard the station — Mikhail Kornienko, Sergey Volkov and Yuri Malenchenko — have a full day of tasks scheduled.

NASA itself is also paying tribute to King. On Friday (Jan. 15), NASA posted a video "celebrat[ing] Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service":

Last year, and in 2014, NASA tweeted a photograph of King's hometown, Atlanta, as seen from the space station.

Kopra and Peake finished a spacewalk Friday — Peake's first — and repaired one of the space station's eight power channels before returning early because of a water bubble in Kopra's helmet.

See more


The main upcoming task on their schedule, Huot said, is Kelly's test run for the SPHERES Zero Robotics Program, which let high school students write algorithms for three free-flying robotic satellites operated from the space station. The winning research designs are used to run the actual satellites in space.

Kopra, Peake and Malenchenko arrived at the space station in December to join Kelly and Kornienko, who are several weeks away from the end of their yearlong mission in space, as well as Volkov.

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

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Sarah Lewin started writing for 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.