Astronauts Celebrate Fourth of July in Space with Photoshoot, Science

Two astronauts pose back to back in an ensemble of red, white and blue clothing
NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer celebrated 2017's Fourth of July in space on the International Space Station with a stars-and-stripes photoshoot. (Image credit: NASA/Twitter)

Today (July 4), people all across the U.S. will celebrate Independence Day with cookouts, flags and fireworks. On the International Space Station, things will be a bit more subdued — with an American flag photoshoot and plenty of science to do.

Here’s what happens when space-folk take some pictures to show their USA-Pride… micro-gravity allows for some cool poses! Happy B-day USA!

NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer will be celebrating the national holiday on the orbiting outpost, although they will not take the day off due to some scheduled science operations, a NASA representative told via email. In lieu of a July Fourth vacation, the crew members took yesterday (July 3) off, the representative said — right after they released a Dragon cargo spacecraft from the station early that morning.

There are also no barbecue grills or fireworks in space (because there can be no open flames), but Whitson and Fischer did bring along some patriotic clothing to wear today, the representative said. The duo showed off their holiday ensembles in a video tweeted from the space station. [Holidays in Space: An Astronaut Photo Album]

NASA astronauts Jack Fischer and tried a variety of poses in their stars-and-stripes gear to celebrate Independence Day 2017. (Image credit: NASA/Twitter)

At the moment, there are no plans for a special meal on the station, but that could change at the discretion of the astronauts, the representative said. And unfortunately, fireworks displays taking place on Earth are too dim to be visible from the orbiting laboratory, the representative said. (However, some NASA astronauts have said they were able to spot fireworks from the station).

This is Whitson's second July Fourth in space. On June 5, 2002, during her first space mission as a NASA astronaut, she flew to the station aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor, as part of STS-111. On the station she joined the crew of Expedition 5. Whitson recently broke the record for most cumulative time spent in space by a NASA astronaut. She and Fischer are both scheduled to return to Earth in September. 

Editor's Note: This article was updated at 11:30 a.m. with the astronauts' photos and video from space.

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Calla Cofield
Senior Writer

Calla Cofield joined's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter