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Happy Thanksgiving: NASA astronauts eat thermo-stabilized yams

Happy Thanksgiving! Onboard the International Space Station, NASA astronauts and their international colleagues will probably enjoy the same type of meal that you and your family will soon be sitting down to eat. Of course, astronauts will be eating space versions of your Thanksgiving favorites, such as irradiated smoked turkey, thermo-stabilized turkey, special cornbread dressing, Russian mashed potatoes and a cranberry-apple dessert. Yumm!

While us Earth-dwelling people have plenty to be thankful for, you can imagine how thankful the crew of the ISS is to have around-the-clock support from family, friends and NASA engineers.

“One of the things I’d like to say we’re really thankful for, of course outside of our family and friends, is the support we received from Earth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round from our international flight control team,” Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford said in a recorded Thanksgiving message.

Vickie Kloeris, NASA food scientist and manager of the space station food system, recently talked with about the Thanksgiving menu for ISS astronauts and the work that is required to make sure that astronauts are able to eat a variety of healthy food during their long-duration spaceflights.

“Thanksgiving is not a holiday that the Russians celebrate, but we have found that on orbit the crewmembers celebrate each others’ holidays,” Ms. Kloeris told “They will take part in Kevin Ford’s celebration of Thanksgiving, just as American crewmembers will take part in some of the Russian holidays.” notes that astronauts have a lot more to choose from this Thanksgiving than they did during some of the earlier space missions.

“If you want to go all the way back to Mercury and Gemini, there were no holiday meals back then,” Ms. Kloeris added. “All you had was cube foods and tube foods. We’ve definitely expanded greatly the amount of traditional items that we have made available for holiday times, and that only makes sense because when we started having crewmembers stay on space station long term, we knew every year we’d be hitting Thanksgiving and Christmas with somebody.”

NASA says that you can send a holiday postcard to the crew of the ISS by visiting this website or by tweeting season’s greetings to the crew.