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Christmas dinner is on its way to the International Space Station

Astronauts who are lucky enough to score a gig aboard the International Space Station make a lot of sacrifices in the name of science. They’re away from their families and friends for months on end, don’t have access to many of the basic creature comforts we all enjoy, and live on a somewhat limited selection of food… unless, of course, it’s Christmas.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that headed skyward this week is carrying a whole bunch of important cargo. It weighs in at 5,600 pounds, and while much of the shipment is fairly typical of a resupply mission, there’s also a very special holiday dinner packed away that some of the crew members will get to enjoy when Christmas rolls around.

So, what do astronauts floating in orbit high above the Earth eat to celebrate Christmas? As it turns out, they’ll be feasting on foods that you’ll likely have on your own dinner table. Smoked turkey breast, cranberry sauce, candied yams, and fruitcake are all on the menu this year, but not all the scientists currently on board the spacecraft will be able to enjoy the meal on Christmas eve or day.

The timing of the holiday doesn’t work out well for three of the crew members currently aboard the space station. Three of the scientists are rapidly nearing the end of their stay in space and will be headed back to Earth on December 20th, leaving the three ISS residents that arrived a few days ago to enjoy the Christmas meal.

Unfortunately for SpaceX, the launch of the cargo resupply trip wasn’t quite perfect. The ship made it into space just fine, but the reusable rocket stage that was supposed to have a soft landing on dry land ended up splashing down in the ocean instead. It was a small glitch in an otherwise routine mission, but serves as a reminder that SpaceX still has a few kinks to work out.