Christmas In Space: Three Astronauts Take Off On Yuletide Mission

Christmas In Space: Three Astronauts Take Off On Yuletide Mission (Video)

Santa has his work cut out on his rounds this year, after three astronauts took off for the International Space Station (ISS) to spend the festive season orbiting the Earth.

The Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off from the snow-covered Baikonur cosmodome in Kazakhstan with a crew of three astronauts: Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko, Nasa Flight Engineer Don Pettit and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers.

The crew will rendezvous with the ISS on Friday, and will join station commander Dan Burbank and two Russian cosmonauts for a quiet Christmas at an orbiting height of about 400km.

The team at the ISS have already lined the station with Christmas decorations, and sent a holiday message back to Earth.

"We'll celebrate the holidays in great fashion after they get here," said commander Burbank according to MSNBC. "We've already put up decorations, and we've gathered together all the cards and gifts that our friends and families have sent to us, and we're planning a couple of big meals. That'll be great."

The team will complete experiments into how humans cope with space flight, and will also be present for the first-ever delivery of cargo to the ISS by a commercial company.

The California company Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX), which in 2010 became the first business to safely launch a capsule into orbit, will deliver an unmanned Dragon capsule loaded with supplies to the space station on 7 February 2012. (Call it a late Christmas present.)


What's Hot