Skip to main content

Space station crew to celebrate New Year, but at what time?

The ISS crew in December 2022.
The Expedition 68 crew from left: NASA astronaut Frank Rubio; Roscosmos cosmonaut Dmitri Petelin; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata; NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann; and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Anna Kikina. NASA

The seven astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are getting ready to see in 2023, but how do they know what time to shout “Happy New Year!”?

The ISS orbits Earth at 17,500 mph and therefore sees multiple sunrises and sunsets throughout a single Earth day, so you might imagine that it’s easy for astronauts to lose track of time.

Fortunately, when astronauts started living aboard the orbital outpost more than two decades ago, space officials considered this conundrum and came up with a simple solution.

So that ISS inhabitants would be able to properly organize space-based operations and activities, NASA and its international partners decided to set clocks aboard the ISS to the Universal Time Clock (UTC), a time standard that corresponds with the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) zone in London.

It means that every 12 months, a new year officially begins aboard the space station at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT) on January 31, which is midnight UTC/GMT.

Of course, it’s possible that each crew member might want to also celebrate the arrival of a new year according to the time zone of their home on Earth.

At the moment, the ISS crew comprises Americans Frank Rubio, Nicole Mann, and Josh Cassada; Russians Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, and Anna Kikina; and Koichi Wakata from Japan, so there could be quite a few celebrations taking place aboard the space station in just a few days from now.

The likelihood is that the astronauts will gather for a single New Year’s party where they’ll enjoy some special food treats and reflect on their time in space so far. There won’t be any champagne celebration, however, as alcohol isn’t allowed on the space station.

Fancy finding out more about how astronauts live and work aboard the International Space Station? Digital Trends has you covered.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
China’s space station was hit by space junk
China's Tiangong space station shown from above.

China's Tiangong space station shown from above. CMSA

Crew members aboard China’s space station have successfully completed repairs after a debris strike caused a partial power failure at the facility, officials of the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) revealed at a press conference on Wednesday.

Read more
Junk from the ISS fell on a house in the U.S., NASA confirms
The International Space Station.

A regular stanchion (left) and the one recovered from the NASA flight support equipment used to mount International Space Station batteries on a cargo pallet. The recovered stanchion survived reentry through Earth’s atmosphere on March 8, 2024, and impacted a home in Florida. NASA

When Alejandro Otero’s son called him on March 8 to say that something had crashed through the roof of their home, he initially thought it might have been a meteorite.

Read more
See what the solar eclipse looked like from space
The Moon’s shadow, or umbra, is pictured from the space station as it orbited into the path of the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

This week's total solar eclipse wowed people across Northern America, but it wasn't only here on Earth that this special cosmic phenomenon was enjoyed. The astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) also caught a stunning glimpse of the eclipse, and NASA has shared some images showing what a space-eye view of an eclipse looks like.

The moon’s shadow, or umbra, on earth was visible from the International Space Station as it orbited into the path of the solar eclipse over southeastern Canada on April 8, 2024. NASA

Read more