A Christmas turkey, cranberry sauce, candied yams, and fruitcake were among Christmas items that were launched into space this week so that those spending Christmas day at the International Space Station could celebrate just like everyone else.
According to Associated Press, a Dragon capsule and its 5,600 pounds (2,500 kilograms) of cargo, was launched into space on Wednesday from Cape Canaveral in Florida. While the takeoff was a little rocky, if all goes to plan, those staying at the International Space Station over Christmas should receive their festive supplies on Saturday.
There was an initial mishap on takeoff as the SpaceX booster missed its landing zone on the ground, ending up in the sea instead. While those looking on from SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne, California we disappointed at the missed landing, a SpaceX commentator noted that the Falcon 9 rocket’s task was only secondary to getting the Dragon’s capsule into space.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk said the booster appeared to be undamaged and took to Twitter to report on the launch.
“Engines stabilized rocket spin just in time, enabling an intact landing in water!” Elon Musk said in his tweet. “Ships en route to rescue Falcon.”
In addition to all the Christmas treats being sent into space, there were also some other, more peculiar items on board.
More than 5,600 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware left Earth at 1:16 pm ET to head to humanity's orbiting lab. @SpaceX's #Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the @Space_Station on Saturday, Dec. 8. Details: https://t.co/ckyqQRd7va pic.twitter.com/iakeKSTkG7— NASA (@NASA) December 5, 2018
Associated Press notes that 40 mice and 36,000 worms were also included in the package. These were for “aging and muscle studies.” Researchers on board the International Space Station are expecting a tenfold increase in the worm population.
“It turns out their muscles are similar to ours in structure and function, making them perfect lab substitutes,” said lead scientist Timothy Etheridge of the University of Exeter in England.
In addition to the bumpy takeoff, the care package was delayed for one day thanks to the discovery that the food being provided for the mice was moldy. As a result, more food had to be rushed in from California for the mice.
The space station has been busy in the lead up to Christmas. Not only will they be receiving the Christmas package on Saturday, but new human arrivals also arrived prior to the festival package being launched into space. Three astronauts arrived to join with the three astronauts already present. For the time being, the crew consists of two Americans, two Russians, one German, and one Canadian. However, the original three astronauts will miss their Christmas dinner in space as they will be flying home on December 20. The three new astronauts will remain in space for six months.