Space Foundation Helps NORAD Track Santa

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Space Foundation Helps NORAD Track Santa Space Foundation team members Janet Stevens, Margo Hatton and Bernadette Sormani got into the holiday spirit along with members of their families on Christmas Eve by answering phone calls and emails for the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s NORAD Tracks Santa Program.

NORAD Tracks Santa is a Certified Imagination Product in the Space Foundation’s Space CertificationTM program.

This year NORAD Tracks Santa exceeded its own records in the number of calls, emails and Facebook and Twitter followers. More than 1,200 volunteers and NORAD staff members answered queries that included nearly 102,000 calls (up over 20,000 from 2010) and 7,721 emails.

The NORAD Tracks Santa website had 18.9 million unique visitors from 220 countries and territories across the globe during the month of December, while fans of the NORAD Tracks Santa Facebook page neared 1 million. More than 101,000 people also followed Santa’s progress on Twitter and the smart phone application received a total of 1.4 million downloads.

About NORAD Tracks Santa

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 Partner.

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 to 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.

About Space Certification

Space Certification products and services are guaranteed to effectively promote the value of space utilization or to have stemmed from or been improved by technologies developed for space exploration Administered by the Space Foundation, the world’s foremost advocate for space, the program comprises three categories: Certified Technology Products, Certified Educational Products and Certified Imagination Products. It provides a marketing edge for partners, demonstrates how space technologies improve life on Earth and makes space more accessible to everyone. The Space Foundation works with NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and other space organizations to validate Space Certification partners. For more information, go to

Pictured: Becca Stevens, daughter of Space Foundation Vice President – Marketing and Communications Janet Stevens, onsite at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center Dec. 24.

This article is part of Space Watch: January 2012 (Volume: 11, Issue: 1).