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Iowan ready to celebrate Thanksgiving in space

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION — NASA released a video of Iowa native astronaut Raja Chari and four of his crewmates aboard the International Space Station as they prepare for Thanksgiving in orbit.

Chari, who grew up in Cedar Falls, says he’ll be keeping alive a tradition with his wife and kids tomorrow even though he’s some 250 miles up and moving at nearly five miles a second.

“Typically in our family Thanksgiving, we’ll do a thing where we go around the table and say what we’re thankful or grateful for,” Chari says, “so I’ll probably call in and do that remotely.”

The 44-year-old Air Force colonel and three other astronauts lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 10th, two weeks ago today. Daily exercise is vital in the weightless environment of the space station and previous residents have used this holiday to re-create a 5-K run after their meal, since they can’t easily go outside for a walk.

“Sometimes people do a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving,” Chari says. “Up here, we have a treadmill so I’ve got some special surprises, colored headbands for the crew to wear while we run it off on our treadmill.”

In the video aired on NASA-TV, Chari appears upside down as he sorts through the clear plastic packets of freeze-dried food which they’ll fill with hot water for their Thanksgiving dinner. Chari and German crewmember Matthias Maurer, an astronaut with the European Space Agency, discovered a treasure trove of edible goodies.

“We’ve got the best case here, the best one that everyone’s after, the roasted turkey. That’ll taste delicious when we add some water,” Chari says. “Plus, potatoes au gratin. We also have candied yams, another holiday treat.” “Yeah, I found the dessert,” Maurer says, “cherry blueberry cobbler, my dessert.”

This is Chari’s first space mission and the plan is for him and his crew to be aloft six months.



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