Memorial Day 2019 Is No Time to Rest for Busy Astronauts

Expedition 59 astronauts snap a playful portrait in weightlessness aboard the International Space Station in this photo in the station's Harmony module taken on April 30, 2019. Seen here are: (Clockwise from top) NASA astronauts Anne McClain, Christina Koch, Nick Hague and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques
It's all work and no play for American astronauts in space this Memorial Day. (Image credit: NASA)

As Americans around the world gear up for ceremonies and cookouts to celebrate Memorial Day today (May 26), astronauts in space are hard at work. But they still took time to honor the men and women of the U.S. military this holiday. 

"...and some gave all. For them, and for their families who continue to give every day, we remember," NASA astronaut Anne McClain, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, wrote on Twitter to mark the holiday from the International Space Station. 

The station's six-person Expedition 59 crew, which includes McClain and two other Americans, doesn't actually get a day off for the holiday, but they may get some free time later to make up for it, has learned. 

Related: In Photos: American Flags in Space!

"They have a full work day on Memorial Day but that means they'll get a day off somewhere down the road to compensate," NASA spokesperson Dan Huot at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston said in an email. That also means there are flight control teams in mission control centers around the world watching over the crew, just like they've done every day since the first crew took up residence on the station in 2000. 

Huot said the station's current Expedition 59 crew has been hard at work conducting scientific research since the arrival of a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship earlier this month, and occasionally crews can miss holidays due to workload demands. But that doesn't mean astronauts are out of touch. 

The space station crew has regular access to an internet protocol phone to call of video conference with friends and family during free time. 

Memorial Day is traditionally a time for Americans to honor the service and sacrifice of its military service members, and there are two U.S. military officers on the space station right now. 

McClain has been living on the station since December. This is her first space mission since joining NASA's astronaut corps in 2013. 

Astronaut Nick Hague, meanwhile, is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force and is on his first spaceflight like McClain. Hague also joined NASA in 2013 and was originally scheduled to fly to the station last October, but the Russian Soyuz rocket he launched on experienced an emergency abort after an anomaly. He ultimately launched to the station in March 2019.

Engineer-astronaut Christina Koch rounds out the U.S. crew on the International Space Station and launched to the station in March with Hague. Koch's mission will be longer than that of her fellow American colleagues, as she now plans to spend about a year in space to help scientists better understand long-duration spaceflight.

Two Russian cosmonauts and one Canadian astronaut make up the rest of the station's Expedition 59 crew. They are: Canadian spaceflyer David Saint-Jacques and cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Kononenko. Kononenko commands the station crew. 

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. 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. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.