NASA astronauts send Fourth of July message to Earth from ISS (video)

The six NASA astronauts who are living off planet at the moment just beamed a special birthday message down to their home country.

Mike Barratt, Matt Dominick, Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Jeanette Epps, Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore each took a turn at the mic, saying a few words about the Fourth of July from their perch aboard the International Space Station (ISS), about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth.

"The Fourth of July always reminds me of the freedoms that we continue to fight for every day, all over the world," Epps said in the new video, which NASA released on Wednesday (July 3). 

The six NASA astronauts currently living on the International Space Station send a Fourth of July message down to Earth in 2024. Clockwise from top center: Butch Wilmore, Suni Williams, Matt Dominick, Mike Barratt, Jeanette Epps and Tracy Caldwell Dyson. (Image credit: NASA)

"For me, the Fourth of July is just a reminder of the fortitude that it took for our forefathers and their families to not only have the will to fight for our freedom, but also the courage to do so," Dyson said.

Barratt came prepared, holding copies of the Declaration of Independence, the first draft of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

"These are sacred words that every American should be familiar with," Barratt said. 

"They're sacred because they provided a framework for this idea of an independent, multicultural democracy to form and actually function," he added. "And we're still building our more perfect union; everybody knows that. But let's recommit, and, as we do that, let's celebrate the Fourth of July and celebrate the great nation that we live in."

Barratt, Dominick and Epps came to the ISS in early March on SpaceX's Crew-8 mission. Dyson arrived a few weeks later aboard a Russian Soyuz vehicle. All four are spending about six months aboard the orbiting lab.

Williams and Wilmore are shorter-term residents; they arrived on June 6 on the first-ever crewed flight of Boeing's Starliner capsule. That mission, known as Crew Flight Test (CFT), was expected to last just 10 days or so, but it has been extended multiple times as NASA and Boeing investigate helium leaks and thruster issues that have cropped up on Starliner. There is currently no target departure date for CFT.

The six NASA astronauts aren't the ISS's only current residents. Cosmonauts Nikolai Chub, Alexander Grebenkin and Oleg Kononenko are also living on the ISS, but they did not participate in the July 4 video message.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.