Dry New Year On Board The International Space Station
December 31, 2006 3:51am CST
The crew on board the International Space Station (ISS) are to ring in the new year without any alcohol, Russian reports said Saturday. "Last year the ISS crew had a surprise in the form of cognac beans, but this year there is a total ban on alcohol," food expert Alexander Agureyev of the Russian Academy of Sciences said in Moscow. US astronauts Michael Lopez-Allegria and Sunita Williams and their Russian colleague Mikhail Tyurin will be able to experience the arrival of January 1, 2007 16 times on board humanity's furthest outpost in space as the station orbits the Earth that many times a day. According to the Russians, the alcohol party-poopers are the Americans from the NASA space authorities. "This time the new year presents were flown out with the US Space Shuttle Discovery under the control of NASA. The alcohol ban is strictly observed there," the Russian expert said. The Russians know that the fundamental "njet" to spirits in space occasionally has loopholes: last year, a Russian Progress freighter transported the cognac beans into space, Agureyev said. The ISS crew have adopted the habit of celebrating the new year just twice from 400 kilometres above the Earth, once each when they pass ground control in Moscow and Houston. The crew are expected to feast on special rations for the new year: each of them was allowed to take six containers of their favourite food with them. Tyurin took beef goulash, bream in tomato and mustard sauce and aubergines, Agureyev said. There is also nut tart and dried cherries and plums. "You can create a nice festive spread from these foodstuffs," the expert said.