The six-person crew of Expedition 55 of the International Space Station ISS poses for a group portrait in the orbit lab. The astronauts will complete the commemoration on May 28, 201
Credit: Scott Tingle / NASA
This year, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station celebrate and remember the honorees as they do every year – working.
That's right – astronauts have to work on Memorial Day. Expedition 55 crew – Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Cmdr. Anton Shkaplerov; Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai; and US astronauts Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Scott Tingle – will not be taking days off this weekend, NASA spokesman Dan Huot told Space.com
The space station's crew members are just too busy to go on vacation. Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo ship, launched on Monday (May 21), reached the space station in the early morning to deliver supplies containing equipment for scientific experiments. [What It’s Like to Become an Astronaut: 10 Surprising Facts]
And while some of the experiments, such as the "Box of lasers" of the Cold Atom Lab are remotely controlled, many of the other experiments will require a fairly regular maintenance and work of the astronauts. Some of the flown experiments consist of "ICE-Cube" modules containing single experiments, old-fashioned sextants studied for space navigation, DNA and RNA sequencing technologies, and E. coli samples. Needless to say, the astronauts will have their hands full.
In addition to the numerous experiments that astronauts have to build, perform, and monitor each day on the space station, they need to unpack and transport much more cargo to its proper location and sort. The space is precious on board the station, which is a time consuming and important process. Luckily, "There are always treats on board," said Kirk Shireman, Space Station's NASA program chief, to reporters after Cygnus was shot into orbit. "We're trying to fly something that every crew member likes, I'm sure there's something for them I'm looking forward to."
But just because they're busy does not mean the crew does not remember them or honor them, who have served in the US forces. In fact, many current and former astronauts were members of the US military. Tingle, for example, is a former naval officer. In recent years, NASA spokeswoman Kelly Humphries told Space.com, "Some crew members remember our troops every Friday by wearing red shirts."
Fortunately, NASA still understands the importance of a day off. While the crew will "actually have a full working day on Monday," Huot Space.com said, "they'll get a day off to miss the holiday."
Unfortunately, Huot does not believe that the crew got a copy of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" that would have been perfect for their day off.