The International Space Station orbits Earth at over 17,000 miles per hour. This means that the crew aboard the station see multiple sunrises and sunsets in a single day. And, because they’re always constantly changing time zones, it’s difficult to keep up with holidays. So how exactly does the crew aboard the ISS celebrate New Year’s? Here’s what you need to know.
Because the ISS is constantly moving around the Earth, its timezone and location are constantly changing, even when it has to evade space debris. To account for this, officials decided way back when the ISS first began operations that it would utilize the Universal Time Clock (UTC). This time corresponds directly with the Greenwich Mean Time, and means that each new year begins at 7 p.m. ET on January 31.
As such, the fine folks aboard the International Space Station will celebrate New Year’s just a few short hours before others in the United States begin to celebrate. However, it’s also possible that the astronauts from other parts of the world will want to celebrate the New Year at the same time they would if they were back home, which could mean multiple celebrations.
However, it’s most likely that the astronauts aboard the ISS will celebrate New Year’s at the same time, and without any kind of alcohol or drinks of that sort, as it isn’t allowed aboard the ISS. Currently, the ISS crew is made up of three American astronauts, three Russian cosmonauts, and one astronaut from Japan.
But, if you want to join the ISS crew’s New Year celebration in spirit, you can do so at midnight UTC/GMT, which–again–is 7 p.m. ET or 4 p.m. PT for Americans across the United States. With NASA planning to deorbit the ISS in the 2030s, there are only a limited number of New Year’s left to celebrate aboard the station. So, there’s nothing wrong with joining the celebration from afar.
We could see some more ISS spacewalks happening in the near future, though, as NASA continues to keep the station up and running as smoothly as possible.