More than a million revelers who are expected to brave the cold weather to gather in New York’s Times Square during New Year's Eve will receive greetings from space, as astronauts will send their good wishes all the way down to Earth from the International Space Station.
The Toshiba Vision LED screen, positioned right below the New Year countdown ball, atop One Times Square, will display the greetings from the astronauts who are currently on board the orbiting space station, NASA said in a release.
Astronaut Mike Massimino, who will participate in the countdown program, will introduce video greetings from the space ship crew -- NASA's Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins, and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. He will also relay a video message from Expedition 36 flight engineer Karen Nyberg, who returned to Earth in November.
Mastracchio, Hopkins and Wakata are part of a six-member crew currently on the ISS, along with Oleg Kotov, Mikhail Tyurin and Sergey Ryazanski of the Russian Federal Space Agency.
The New Year’s countdown will begin at 6 p.m. EST and last through 12:15 a.m. EST. The Times Square New Year's Eve ball, which weighs about 11,875 pounds, was tested Monday to ensure there are no glitches. According to weather.com, temperatures are expected to be below freezing, at minus 23 degrees Fahrenheit.
The annual ball drop will be accompanied by live musical performances, amid tight security. Unlike in previous years, New York's mayor will not be attending the celebrations, as outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who usually attended the revelries during his tenure, has chosen to spend time with his family and friends this year.
Instead, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will lead the final 60-second countdown and push the ceremonial button to signal the drop of the Times Square New Year's Eve ball.