Astronauts celebrate Fourth of July from space station

American astronauts on the International Space Station are celebrating Independence Day from space.

In a video released July 2, two days ahead of the Fourth of July — the Independence Day holiday in the United States — NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley commemorated the holiday from space.

Cassidy, commander of the space station's current Expedition 63 mission, began by introducing the three astronauts and sharing that the crew is "taking a moment out of our schedule to honor the 244th birthday of the United States of America, and we hope that you are doing the same."

In photos: The Expedition 63 mission to the International Space Station

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy (left), Doug Hurley (center) and Bob Behnken celebrate the U.S. Fourth of July holiday in a video message from the International Space Station released July 2, 2020. (Image credit: NASA TV)

He passed the microphone to Hurley, who shared that "even though we are living during unprecedented challenging times, the spirit and resolute will of our country and all Americans has never been stronger as we give thanks for the freedom and the bounty of riches our nation provides all of us."

Behnken held an American flag throughout the video. 

"This American flag," Behnken explained, "was launched on the very first space shuttle mission in 1981 and reflown on the final space shuttle mission nine years ago."

Behnken added that Hurley and he will bring the flag, nicknamed "Old Glory," "home with us on our SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour so it can be flown yet again when Americans launch on [the] Orion spacecraft to place American boots on the moon." NASA's Orion spacecraft will carry astronauts to the moon as part of the agency's Artemis program.

Cassidy concluded the patriotic tribute, saying that "our flag is not only symbolic of our fervent love of our country but represents the spirit of American drive and exploration that will lead us once again, a new generation of explorers to venture back to the moon and beyond in the years to come. So take a moment, as we are, to reflect on our history, America's place in the world and all that freedom has to offer. Thank you from all of us on the International Space Station." 

The three astronauts ended the video by waving to the audience. If you look closely, though, the three astronauts were not alone in the video, as floating over Cassidy's head was Tremor, the apatosaurus that flew to the station aboard Endeavour with Behnken and Hurley as part of SpaceX's Demo-2 mission, and Earthy, which flew aboard Crew Dragon to the space station as part of SpaceX's uncrewed Demo-1 mission in 2019. 

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Chelsea Gohd
Senior Writer

Chelsea “Foxanne” Gohd joined in 2018 and is now a Senior Writer, writing about everything from climate change to planetary science and human spaceflight in both articles and on-camera in videos. With a degree in Public Health and biological sciences, Chelsea has written and worked for institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine and Live Science. When not writing, editing or filming something space-y, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd is writing music and performing as Foxanne, even launching a song to space in 2021 with Inspiration4. You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd and @foxannemusic.