A space Thanksgiving

Family and feasting sums up the holidays for a lot of America. But we can't all be in the kitchen with our families on Thanksgiving. Some of us will be with friends, and some of us will be...in space. When you're an astronaut, your options for decadent holiday meals are limited. Food made for space is simple, familiar, appetizing, and freeze-dried, made to be prepared quickly and easily.

There's not a lot of kitchen prep involved in cooking in space: freeze dried, individually packaged, just add water. A full meal for a crew of four can be set up in about 5 minutes, and reconstituting and heating the food takes another 20 minutes or so.

Here, Cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin (left), Expedition 3 flight engineer, and astronaut Frank L. Culbertson, mission commander, eat a Thanksgiving meal in the Zvezda Service Module on the International Space Station (ISS).

The first astronauts to celebrate Thanksgiving in space were aboard the United States' first space base, Skylab, in 1973.

This will be the 13th year that astronauts and cosmonauts have been aboard the ISS during Thanksgiving. When in orbit, crew members typically celebrate each other's holidays.
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Reconstituted Thanksgiving dinner

The kitchen, or "galley" as it is known aboard the International Space Station, is a modular unit with a water dispenser and an oven. Water is added to the food to rehydrate it, and the oven is then used to warm food to serving temperature.

A tray, fastened to the astronaut's lap or attached to the wall, is used to hold the food packages and keep them from floating away. Without the tray, the contents of one container would have to be completely consumed before opening another.

Here, members of the STS-129 crew share a meal aboard the ISS. Thanksgiving Day in space will be similar to this shared meal aboard Atlantis.
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Space Station food and utensils

Eating on the Space Station isn't exactly fine dining -- bags of freeze-dried space food in individual portions are seen here alongside utensils which are then attached to a tray with Velcro.
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Space versions of holiday favorites

NASA posted this video from Expedition 34 in 2012 when Commander Kevin Ford shared a look at a Thanksgiving meal in space.

Space versions of traditional holiday favorites include smoked turkey, cornbread dressing, and thermostabilized yams, as well as Russian mashed potatoes with onions, corn, and a cranberry-apple dessert.

Check out NASA's very own cornbread recipe here, and try it for yourself.
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Thanksgiving in the Zvezda Service Module

Cosmonauts Vladimir N. Dezhurov (left) and Mikhail Tyurin, both Expedition 3 flight engineers representing Rosaviakosmos, eat a Thanksgiving meal in the Zvezda Service Module on the International Space Station on November 22, 2001.
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Ready to chow down

Astronaut Frank L. Culbertson (left), Expedition 3 mission commander, and cosmonaut Vladimir N. Dezhurov, flight engineer representing Rosaviakosmos, eat a Thanksgiving meal in the Zvezda Service Module on the International Space Station on November 22, 2001.
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Photo by: NASA / Caption by:

Atlantis' Thanksgiving feast

The crew aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Back row from left to right: Pilot Barry Wilmore, Commander Charlie Hobaugh, Randy Bresnik, and Mike Foreman. Front row left to right: Melvin Leland, Nicole Stott, and Robert Satcher look at their Thanksgiving feast.
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