As if staying on the International Space Station (ISS) wasn’t cool enough, some astronauts can even enjoy their birthday there.
With the ISS constantly changing crew over the past 20 years, occasional birthdays on board the outpost in orbit are inevitable, the most recent of which was only a few days ago.
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough turned 54 on Friday, June 4th, and of course his six fellow crew members made sure he organized some celebrations for his big day.
Top center: NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough during his space-based birthday celebration on Friday. Thomas Pesquet / ESA
You won’t be surprised to know that a birthday party on the ISS is a little different than one on solid ground. For starters, alcohol is not allowed on the space station, so a festive drink is out of the question. And while some people on Earth choose to have a birthday barbecue, a lot of the food on the space station is less exciting; Even traditionally made cakes are banned as the crumbs roll off and cause problems with the machines.
Still, it’s a birthday in space. On the ISS, such an event is an opportunity for the crew members to take a break from their work, play party music on the station’s musical instruments and give the birthday child a special feeling. And then of course you have the breathtaking view of the earth and beyond, and how many birthday parties have you been to where you can literally float through space?
The latest data from NASA shows that more than 80 birthdays have been celebrated on the ISS so far. Since many crew members have repeatedly undertaken missions to the space station during their careers, some have even enjoyed more than one birthday there. The Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka holds the record with four birthdays on the ISS in 2004, 2009, 2012 and 2015.
And while Padalka enjoyed several birthday parties aboard the station, NASA astronaut Victor Glover recently had a stroke of luck when his 45th birthday coincided with his very first space trip.
Life on @Space_Station goes on and @AstroVicGlover celebrated his birthday shortly before he left. Merci mon ami for your help. @AstroPeggy told me that birthdays celebrated in space don’t count and I’m sticking to it! pic.twitter.com/Ep8hHH5OPo
– Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) May 3, 2021
NASA notes on its website that prior to the commissioning of the ISS, “dozens more astronauts and cosmonauts celebrated their special day in orbit, mainly on board Soviet and Russian space stations”.
The very first birthday celebrated in space was that of Soviet cosmonaut Viktor Patsayev aboard the Salyut space station in June 1971, while Pete Conrad became the first American to have a space birthday in June 1973 while on a Skylab mission.
The first woman to have a birthday outside of Earth was NASA astronaut Janet Kavandi, who turned 42 in July 2001 while on a space shuttle mission. The first one was on board the ISS on the same birthday. The youngest birthday was 33 and the oldest 60, on the Mir space station or the ISS.
To learn more about life aboard the International Space Station, take a moment to explore this collection of videos created by the astronauts themselves over the years.