It's hard to seat nine people for dinner in most city apartments. So imagine how hard it is to find room for nine hungry astronauts on the International Space Station.
The ISS was almost filled to capacity this week, as nine astronauts were onboard for the first time since November 2013. And luckily for the Internet, the crew had the foresight to film a time-lapse of one of their "family dinners," crowded around a small table that would probably seat two in your average cafe.
"At the end of the day, the dinner table acts as a unifier, a place of community. Sharing a meal gives us a chance to put aside work and catch up with one another," wrote Flight Engineer Scott Kelly, who is spending a year in space as part of a NASA research initiative, in a short statement accompanying the video. "While nutrition is important to us physically - maintaining our health and mitigating the negative effects of microgravity on our bodies - mealtime also is important to us psychologically."
"Dining together can radically shift perspectives, blurring boundaries just as looking down on Earth from our vantage point, especially, when dinner partners are from all different corners of the world," Kelly continues, "But also mealtime lets us build a sense of camaraderie."
Soyuz crew members Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos, Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) and Aidyn Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency arrived on the ISS on Sept. 4, temporarily bumping the number of crew members up from the usual six to a crowded nine people for a week. On Friday, Commander Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos, Mogensen and Aimbetov left for Earth, leaving six aboard the ISS once more.
"Andy, Aidyn and Gennady - whom I launched to the International Space Station with nearly six months ago - will begin their journey home today," Kelly wrote. "I will miss those guys. They are good friends to break bread with."
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