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Astronauts Send Christmas Wishes from Space

Astronauts Send Christmas Wishes from Space
NASA astronauts Michael Fincke (right) and Sandra Magnus send holiday wishes to Earth in a video message. (Image credit: NASA TV.)

Astronautsaboard the International Space Station have sent holiday wishes to the peopleof Earth and may celebrate with some festive Christmas cookies today as theyfly high above their home planet.

Spacestation commander Michael Fincke and flight engineers Sandra Magnus and YuryLonchakov have the ingredients for the cookies at their disposal thanks to arecent cargo ship that arrived at the orbiting laboratory last month. Theastronauts have a lightday planned for the holiday, NASA officials said.

?Magnusmade it a point to request that red, green, yellow, blue and white icing beamong her foods to be used to decorate an assortment of cinnamon, shortbread andbutter cookies also carried aloft,? NASA officials said in an update. ?The crewalso has a variety of candies to continue the high-calorie traditions so commonon Earth this time of year.?

Fincke andMagnus, both NASA astronauts, beamed their best wishes for the holiday seasonto Earth completewith Santa hats and a floating Christmas tree.

?It is thistime of year when we can reflect on our blessings and the opportunity toadvance the cause of exploration through this great global project involvingnations,? Magnus said in the video message.

?We hopethat Santa?s good to you,? Fincke told flight controllers on Wednesday.

Fincke,Magnus and Lonchakov, of Russia, have chocolate-covered pecans and candied yamsin their pantry, with smoked turkey, cornbread dressing and mashed potatoesalso available for holiday meals. Fincke has also packed away some asparagus,shrimp cocktails, dried blueberries, tropical fruit, wheat flat bread and brownrice, NASA officials said.

Christmasin space

Astronautshave celebrated Christmas and other holidays aboard the International SpaceStation continuously since 2000, when the outpost?s first crew arrived. Thisyear also marksthe 40th anniversary of another notable space Christmas: the historic 1968flight of Apollo 8 around the moon, when astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovelland Bill Anders sent a Christmas Eve broadcast to Earth.

The Skylab4 crew built a homemadeChristmas tree out of empty food cans during their orbital holiday in 1973aboard the U.S. space station. NASA astronauts John Blaha and David Wolfcelebrated the holidays in space aboard Russia?s Space Station Mir in 1996 and1997, respectively. The STS-103 crew of NASA?s space shuttle celebratedChristmas in space by releasing the Hubble Space Telescope back into orbitafter a 1999 service call.

For Finckeand his Expedition 18 crew aboard the space station, this year?s holiday isespecially sweet. The Russian-builtProgress 31 spacecraft that delivered the holiday treats to the spacestation on Nov. 30 also included Christmas gifts for the crew from theirfamilies and friends on Earth.

?So happyholidays from the International Space Station and best wishes for a happy andhealthy year ahead,? Fincke said.

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Tariq Malik

SPACE.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF — Tariq joined the team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became's Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Google+, Twitter and on Facebook.