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This year, there’ll be empty spaces at the table for Thanksgiving on space station

22 Nov 2018, 03:31 UTC
This year, there’ll be empty spaces at the table for Thanksgiving on space station
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NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, at right, takes a group selfie with Russia’s Sergey Prokopyev and Germany’s Alexander Gerst on the International Space Station. (NASA Photo)
Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for big gatherings around the dinner table, but this year’s feast on the International Space Station will be served to only three people. And only two of them have the day off.
That’s because two spacefliers who were supposed to be in orbit at this time of year missed out on their ride: NASA’s Nick Hague and Russia’s Alexey Ovchinin had to return to Earth just minutes after their launch on Oct. 11 due to a Soyuz rocket malfunction. The next crew won’t arrive until next month.
As a result, NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor is the only one on the station who has traditionally observed American Thanksgiving. German astronaut Alexander Gerst is getting the day off as well, even though the closest thing to Thanksgiving in Germany, a harvest festival known as Erntedankfest, is usually celebrated in September or October. And for the third crew member, Russia’s Sergey Prokopyev, Thursday is just another workday.
In a space-to-ground interview conducted three weeks ago, Auñón-Chancellor said she misses Hague and Ovchinin. “Sure, ...

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