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​A Thanksgiving greeting from space

Even 260 miles above Earth, it's Thanksgiving day.

In a message taped earlier this week, NASA astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore, commander of the Expedition 42 crew aboard the International Space Station, sent a special message to everyone back on the ground.

Holding a microphone and floating in midair, Wilmore said that on this holiday, the first thing he and his family do is think about the early settlers who "endured some rough times crossing the ocean and getting started in an unknown land."

He went on to give thanks for the U.S. military: "They get up in the morning, they know their task ahead of them and they realize they may not return -- and they go anyway."

Recent accidents have highlighted the dangers of space travel, underscoring that Wilmore himself is a settler of sorts, and one who puts his own life on the line for his country. The explosion of the unmanned Antares rocket bound for ISS in October was followed only days later by the Virgin Galactic crash in Mojave, Calif., that killed one pilot.

Yet there was no sense of danger in the commander's voice, only joy and reflection as he laid bare what he's thankful for and laid out the menu for Thanksgiving dinner on the ISS.

He pulled out packets of freeze-dried foods, reading the labels and letting them float off one by one: irradiated smoked turkey, cornbread dressing ("rehydrate that and that's going to be mighty tasty") and cranberry pie for dessert. In a nod to his home state of Tennessee, Wilmore said he'd wash it all down with sweet tea.

  • Amanda Schupak

    Amanda Schupak is the science and technology editor at CBSNews.com