22:57 GMT +3 hours26 August 2016
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Sputnik and Space: New Year’s Wishes From the ISS Crew

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Find out what life is like on the International Space Station – and what the crew has planned for New Year’s Eve, in an exclusive interview with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and astronaut Scott Kelly, who are currently on the world’s first-ever year-long mission aboard the ISS.

As the crew prepares to ring in the New Year, flight engineer Kornienko reflects on how professional spacemen celebrate the holidays.

​"We put up a Christmas tree, brought gifts – so everything is just as it is back on earth, apart from the weightlessness," he tells Sputnik. "The Earth wished us a Merry Christmas – friends, relatives, Mission Control Centers.

"The New Year will be very good here, on the ISS," he adds, describing a recent delivery of crucial supplies.

Flight engineer Scott Kelly, however, confirms that alcohol is not allowed in space.

Kornienko also describes how cosmonauts unwind in such a unique environment. While movies and news broadcasts help pass the time, one of the most important parts of living in space is keeping fit.

"We have treadmills, exercise bicycles, IRT [Interval Resistance Training]. We have a mini-gym here to train all the muscle groups," he says, but adds that "we also take pictures of Earth – for ourselves, for our friends and also as a task from Earth."

Viewing the world from space has given those aboard the ISS a first-hand look at the consequences of climate change.

"From here you can easily see deforestation, in South America for instance," Kornienko says. "In 2007, I climbed the Mount Kilimanjaro, and there was a snow top. Now there is none. So you can see these changes. And if we don’t stop now, the consequences will be terrible.

"Let’s take care of Earth! That’s my impression."

Of course, it’s not all serious business. Cosmonauts aren’t above pulling a few pranks on April Fools’ Day.

"We did prank someone…I think I even made an appointment from space for a haircut back on Earth, in Star City. And the girl with whom I always try to get an appointment, she was expecting me. And then she learned that I was in space!"

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Tags:
astronaut, cosmonaut, International Space Station (ISS), Mikhail Kornienko, Scott Kelly, United States, Russia
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