Labor Day 2021 in space: Astronauts take a half-day off from science duties

Space station astronauts have fun with many pints of ice cream that recently arrived on a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft. (Image credit: Thomas Pesquet/ESA/NASA/Flickr)

NASA astronauts at the International Space Station will only enjoy a half-day off from work on Labor Day today (Sept. 5).

While most federal workers across the U.S. are enjoying the national holiday off, the three NASA astronauts at the orbiting laboratory — Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur — have a few science tasks on their schedules, Dan Huot, a NASA spokesperson with the Johnson Space Center in Houston, told

"Right now looks like the crew has a half-day off on Monday," Huot said. "As usual, the flight control team will find a make-up day in the future to give them time off," he added. 

Related: Holidays in space: an astronaut photo album

Astronauts at the International Space Station pose with a newly installed cargo compartment inside the Quest airlock, on Aug. 27, 2021. From left to right: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. (Image credit: Thomas Pesquet/ESA/NASA/Flickr)

Space station astronauts conduct hundreds of scientific experiments while living and working at the International Space Station, and some experiments require daily attention — even on national holidays. The Expedition 65 crew just received a fresh shipment of science gear and other cargo last week with the arrival of SpaceX's Dargon CRS-23 cargo resupply mission. Along with bone, plant and materials science investigations, the astronauts also received a special treat with SpaceX's cargo shipment: plenty of ice cream

There are currently seven international crewmembers living and working at the orbiting laboratory. Along with the three U.S. astronauts, the Expedition 65 crew includes cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency. 

In photos: The astronauts of Expedition 65 to the International Space Station

Vande Hei, Dubrov and Novitskiy arrived at the space station April 9 on the Russian Soyuz MS-18 mission. About two weeks later, Kimbrough, McArthur, Pesquet and Hoshide arrived on SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour with the Crew-2 mission. 

The Crew Dragon is expected to return to Earth with the same four-person crew in November. Vande Hei and Dubrov are expected to remain at the station until March; their two seats on the returning Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft next month will be filled by Russian filmmakers Kim Shipenko and Yulia Peresild, who will launch on a two-week mission to the ISS on Oct. 5.

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.