Santa off to space station

A space rocket blasted off last night to carry Christmas goodies to orbiting astronauts aboard the international space station.
The cargo rocket Progress 20 left Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with gifts and other treats for U.S. Commander Bill McArthur and Russian Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev.
They are looking forward to opening holiday treats from their families after Santa’s unmanned ship arrives tomorrow.
The rocket is also carrying fresh supplies of water, fuel and air.
On Christmas Day, US astronaut Bill and Russian cosmonaut Valery will sit down together to tuck into rehydrated turkey and irradiated vegetables as they speed at 17,000mph, 220 miles above the Earth.
But there won’t be any booze to wash it down – alcohol is not allowed aboard the space station.
The men will also chat to their families and relax with a DVD or reading a book before they have to get back to work clearing rubbish into another Progress ship.
The Nasa picture shows an earlier cargo ship, Progress 17, from the space station. It is one of my favourite space images with the ship tilting its “wings” Spitfire-style (actually solar panels, of course) plus the fragile blue atmosphere bleeding into a black sky.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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