Japan Delivers Christmas Presents To Space Station Astronauts


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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Christmas arrived early on the International Space Station (ISS) Tuesday, thanks to Japan.

A Japanese resupply cargo ship, dubbed Kounotori, carried almost 5 tons of food, drinking water, batteries and other supplies. NASA has confirmed that the craft carries Christmas presents and food for the two American, one French and three Russian astronauts on the station.

Japan’s delivery is especially necessary because a Russian ISS resupply craft caught on fire earlier this month. Presently, one of NASA’s other primary ISS resuppliers, SpaceX, is currently grounded until mid-January.

Astronauts will be eating Christmas-themed food as well, similar to the sliced turkey, green beans, sweat tea, mashed potatoes and candied yams they had at Thanksgiving, which were arranged and put into pouches by scientists at Texas A&M University. The university produces NASA’s ready-to-eat meal packages, heat-sealing them and running the food through a heat-processing step to sterilize the food inside a pouch.

The cargo ship also carries a tether designed to collect and dispose of dangerous space junk.

The U.S. paid for 84 percent of the costs associated with building the ISS while Japan’s contribution was smaller and largely limited to technical support. The last American Space Shuttle to the ISS launched five years ago in July, but NASA still can’t put men into space without Russian cooperation due to President Barack Obama’s cuts to the agency’s exploration and spaceflight capability. Russia has repeatedly threatened to block America access to the $150 billion ISS in response to U.S. sanctions.

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