Space Foundation Partner Plots Santa's Route

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Space Foundation Partner Plots Santa's Route For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), have tracked Santa along his yuletide journey. And, since 2007, NORAD Tracks Santa has been a Space Foundation Certified Imagination PartnerTM.

It all began on Christmas Eve back in 1955 after a Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement directed children to call Santa direct – only the number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline” phone. After receiving a number of calls from kids asking where Santa was and realizing what had happened, the CONAD staff decided to update children with Santa’s location according their radar screens all throughout the evening. In 1958, Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for the North American continent called the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which inherited the annual task of tracking Santa.

Today, NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jet aircraft. Not only do these systems utilize a variety of space technology, but the tradition of tracking Santa’s progress itself inspires children around the world to think about how space technology and exploration play an increasingly important role in our daily lives. Three hundred and sixty-five days a year, NORAD Canadians and Americans work together to monitor our airspace and waterways for potential threats by conducting the NORAD missions of aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning.

Beginning Dec. 1, on your home computer and on your smart phone, you can join NORAD as it counts down the days to Santa’s launch from the North Pole. Then on Dec. 24, you can tune in once again to join the experience of tracking Santa and his reindeer across the globe by logging onto And for regular updates about the cool games and other fun activities that will be offered on the website, visit the NORAD Tracks Santa Facebook page.

Watch the recap video of Santa’s 2010 trip around the world. Click here.

Several Space Foundation team members and their families are joining the NORAD Tracks Santa team this year to field calls from children all over the world.


This article is part of Space Watch: December 2011 (Volume: 10, Issue: 12).