In 1955 a young child trying to reach Santa Claus accidentally dialed a U.S. military base sparking a tradition that has now lifted off to space.
For over 60 years the North American Aerospace Defense Command and its predecessor the Continental Air Defense Command have been helping track Jolly ole Saint Nick for excited kids as he delivers millions of presents to children across the globe.
Now for the first time, Army Col. Andrew Morgan, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, has stepped into the tradition helping spot Santa and his reindeer as his sleigh packed with Yuletide gifts races across the globe.
“We believe this marks the first time American Astronauts aboard the ISS are working directly with NORAD to confirm Santa’s location reports,” NORAD said in a news release.
Kids can also track Santa’s progress through NORAD’s interactive website that show’s Santa’s position in real-time, including number of presents he has delivered.
“In addition to our day-to-day mission of defending North America, we are proud to carry on the tradition of tracking Santa as he travels along his yuletide flight path,” Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, said in a news release. “The same radars, satellites and interceptors employed on December 24 are used year-round to defend Canadian and American airspace from threats.”
According to a fact sheet on NORAD’s website, nearly 15 million people every year visit the Santa tracking site, and volunteers take roughly 130,000 phone calls.
NORAD says its tracking program is made possible by volunteers and through the support of corporate licensees who “bear virtually all of the costs,” according to a news release.
Kids can track Santa at www.noradsanta.org or call 1-877-HiNORAD for Santa’s latest location.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.