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2020 in Space! Astronauts Ring in New Year (and Decade) from Orbit

The six astronauts of Expedition 60 on the International Space Station celebrated 2020 earlier than you might think. Pictured here: (foreground from left) NASA astronauts Jessica Meir, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano (center) and NASA astronaut Christina Koch (right). Background from left: Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan.
The six astronauts of Expedition 60 on the International Space Station celebrated 2020 earlier than you might think. Pictured here: (foreground from left) NASA astronauts Jessica Meir, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano (center) and NASA astronaut Christina Koch (right). Background from left: Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan.
(Image: © NASA)

The people of Earth weren't the only ones ringing in the year 2020 at midnight. Six explorers in orbit celebrated the new  year's arrival - and indeed, a new decade - aboard the International Space Station

"Happy New Year from low Earth orbit!" NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan wrote on Twitter as Earth began the year 2020. 

Morgan celebrated 2020's arrival with crewmates Christina Koch and Jessica Meir (both of NASA), European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexander Skvortsov. Parmitano commands the crew, known as Expedition 60. 

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Celebrating a new year in space is a bit different than ringing in Jan. 1 on Earth. For starters, astronauts orbit the Earth 16 times a day, meaning they see 16 sunrises and sunsets as the circle the planet every hour and a half. Then there's their time zone, which meant the station crew saw 2020's arrival before flight controllers at NASA's Mission Control center in Houston. 

"The space station operates on Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT, meaning it will only be 7 pm ET when the orbiting astronauts' clock strikes midnight to ring in the new year," NASA officials said in a Twitter statement

The year 2020 is a major milestone for the International Space Station. In November, the station will celebrate 20 years of continuous operation with a human crew. (The first station crew Expedition 1 arrived in 2000.)

SpaceX and Boeing are expected to begin flying astronauts to the station for NASA on commercial spacecraft. SpaceX's Crew Dragon will fly an uncrewed in-flight abort test in early January as part of that work. 

Meanwhile, Christina Koch is on a record-breaking mission to spend nearly a year in space (328 days to be exact) and has already set a new record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman

Meir celebrated the new year on Twitter with a photo of her own launch as seen by Koch in space in September. The image, Meir said, summed up 2019 as her "most extraordinary year yet."

 "The journey was certainly not only my own, I remain in dept to countless individuals on the ground," Meir said. "Happy New Year to all on (& off) Earth!"

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.

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  • zclayton
    New Year. Not a new Decade, I expect better from Space.com. The first year was 1 CE. 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10, a decade of 10 years. Unless you can show which "Decade" only has 9 years in it, the next Decade starts on 2021. I would have thought you would remember from the 1999-2000-2001 fiasco for the end of the 20th century and start of the 21st century in 2001.
    Reply
  • The Exoplanets Channel
    Great post.
    Btw, for those interested in super habitable planets, this video might interest you: youtu.be/7UJEPKLmznk
    Reply
  • mylakay
    zclayton said:
    New Year. Not a new Decade, I expect better from Space.com. The first year was 1 CE. 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10, a decade of 10 years. Unless you can show which "Decade" only has 9 years in it, the next Decade starts on 2021. I would have thought you would remember from the 1999-2000-2001 fiasco for the end of the 20th century and start of the 21st century in 2001.

    Thank you! I am so tired of explaining when a decade/milenium begins and ends. The number of people and web sites that are wrong is enormous. There is no way to send a message to all of them, correcting their information. Kudos!
    Reply