People across the world will celebrate the arrival of the new year at different times of the day as the clock strikes 12 for their time zone. But what about the International Space Station (ISS) astronauts that are whizzing around the Earth about 400 kilometers above its surface?
The ISS orbits the Earth at a speed of around 7.6 kilometers per second. This means that the space station orbits the Earth 16 times a day, traveling through 16 sunrises and sunsets. Also, astronauts aboard the space station come from countries with vastly different time zones all the way from the United States to Japan. So what time zone is followed by the astronauts and when will they celebrate New Year’s?
Well, the ISS astronauts will be celebrating it at 5.30 AM IST on January 1, 2023. This is because ISS follows the Universal Coordinated Time, also known as Greenwich Mean Time. UTC is one hour behind Central European Time and five-and-a-half hours behind Indian time.
It was chosen as the de facto standard time zone for the ISS because it is around the mid-point for all ISS partners. It also allows the two main mission control centers (located in Houston and Moscow) to cover a shift of one half-day each.
Currently, there are seven crew members aboard the ISS—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.