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December 19, 2003

Melissa Mathews
Headquarters, Washington

Nicole Cloutier-Lemasters
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Release: #H03-418

Santa Has Company in the Christmas Sky

Santa will have company in the sky above most U.S. cities on Christmas Eve. The International Space Station will be visible, weather permitting, with its two crewmen snug in sleeping bags secured to the walls, with visions of dehydrated turkey dancing in their heads.

Cities from New York to Los Angeles, and most points in between, will have the Station pass high overhead, but easily visible, at various times Dec. 23-26. Exact sighting dates, times and viewing tips for hundreds of towns are available on the Internet at:

NASA astronaut Michael Foale and Cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri will spend Christmas aboard the Station, more than two months into a six-month flight. A Christmas message from the crew airs on NASA Television at 2 p.m. CST today.

For the holiday, Foale and Kaleri will enjoy a Christmas, as traditional as it can be in orbit, more than 230 miles overhead. They've saved a special ration of smoked turkey just for the occasion. They have Velcro ornaments, and a space-saving Nomex Christmas tree. The crew has special Christmas stockings, filled by Santa before they left Earth, with special treats and gifts from family and friends.

On Christmas Day they will see and speak with their families via a two-way video linkup. Back on Earth, teams of flight controllers and experiment investigators in Houston, Huntsville, Ala. and Moscow will spend Christmas with the crew as well.

"Keeping the Station operating well is a 24-7 job," said Jeff Hanley, NASA Flight Director. "And while we can't be with our families, we all will feel privileged to be here. We are sharing our holiday with our crew in space."

The staff in Mission Control will maintain a festive mood during the day, Hanley said, and by tradition, they will join together during the day to share video greetings with the crew. Foale and Kaleri are scheduled to return to Earth April 29.

NASA Television is available on AMC-2, transponder 9C, C-Band, located at 85 degrees west longitude. The frequency is 3880.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical and audio is monaural at 6.8 MHz.

For more information about the International Space Station, its crew and a special feature on the history of holidays in space, visit:

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

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