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Q. The newspapers make it sound like the only time an astronaut has been in space over Christmas was the December 1999 shuttle flight. I thought they had been up there before during Christmas. — Michael C.
A. Well, they have been up there during Christmas before! In fact, that December 1999 flight of Discovery to repair the Hubble Space Telescope was the first time a U.S. space shuttle was in orbit over Christmas. However, the crew of the early U.S. spaceflight capsule Apollo 8 spent Christmas in space in 1968 and the U.S. Skylab 4 space station crew was in orbit in 1973.
In addition, two different U.S. astronauts were living aboard Russia's Mir space station during Christmases in 1996 and 1997.
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