After a year in space, astronaut says he could do another In this image from video made available by NASA on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, astronaut Scott Kelly wears a gorilla costume in the International Space Station. The suit was a gift from his identical twin brother, former astronaut Mark Kelly. (NASA via AP/AP Photo/Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center via NASA)
After a year in space, astronaut says he could do another
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America's space-endurance champ is Scott Kelly.  He is scheduled to return to Earth today. The astronaut has spent nearly a year in orbit. He's been aboard the International Space Station.  High on his to-do list when he gets back will be jumping into his pool. And dining at a real table.
 
Yet he said he could hold out another year in space.
 
"Yeah, I could go another 100 days. I could go another year if I had to," Kelly assured reporters. He spoke in a video news conference from orbit. "It would just depend on what I was doing. And if it made sense. Although I do look forward to getting home here next week."
 
Going without running water for a year has made hygiene difficult, Kelly acknowledged. "It's kind of like I've been in the woods camping for a year."
 
But the hardest part of all? He said it is being separated from his loved ones. It's a situation that will pose even more of a challenge for astronauts sent to Mars.
 
Kelly took questions on Day 335 of what already is NASA's longest single spaceflight. By the time Kelly rides a Russian capsule to a landing in Kazakhstan, his mission will have lasted 340 days.
 
The world record for a single spaceflight is 438 days. It was set by a Russian cosmonaut. That was in the 1990s. Even that will pale in comparison to a Mars expedition.  It is expected to last two to three years round trip.
 
Scientists hope to learn much from Kelly's mission. It will help to pave the way to Mars. That mission should be in about 20 years. The scientists will also collect data from his Russian roommate for the past year. He is Mikhail Kornienko.
 
Kelly is 52 years old. He is a former space shuttle commander. He will undergo a battery of medical and physical tests at the landing site. He will then be hustled home to Houston. There, he will get more tests. And he will have weeks, if not months, of rehabilitation. He must recover from the punishing effects of an extended stay in zero gravity. Those effects include degraded vision and the loss of bone and muscle.
 
Awaiting his arrival in Houston will be his two daughters and his girlfriend.  She works in public affairs at Johnson Space Center. His identical twin is former astronaut Mark Kelly. He will also be there waiting.
 
The brothers have submitted to similar medical tests for more than a year. They will keep it up in the months ahead. NASA hopes the research on the genetically identical brothers will illuminate some of the more extreme effects of weightlessness on the body.
 
The Kellys talked often during the mission, more than they did before the flight, in fact. The 250-mile-high space station has an Internet phone. It is capable of calling anyone. Mission Control also arranges regular video conferences between astronauts and their families.
 
"One of the only real lifelines you have, one of the best ones, is certainly the ability to make a phone call," Mark Kelly said from his home in Tucson, Arizona. He said he and his brother hope to go fishing in Alaska.
 
Scott Kelly said he was more anxious to return home following his last space station stint five years ago. It lasted 159 days. That was because of the assassination attempt two months earlier on his congresswoman sister-in-law, Gabrielle Giffords. She is Mark's wife.
 
This time, Kelly said, he didn't focus on the end of his mission but rather on each upcoming milestone. Like the arrival of supplies and crews, major experiments, spacewalks and maintenance tasks. Even so, he said, events from last summer or fall seem like forever ago.
 
He lightened things up recently by donning a gorilla suit and cavorting through the station. The suit was a gift from Mark.
 
"Next milestone is coming home," Kelly said with a smile.
 
He ended the news conference with a slow-motion backflip. It's undoubtedly one of the pluses of space.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is the year in space project so important?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (25)
  • paytonp-pit
    3/09/2016 - 01:43 p.m.

    Its important to think about what is coming and not what is your mission because you can't focus on your mission if there is a problem "this time, Kelly said, he didn't focus on his mission but rather on each upcoming milestone."

  • alexiam-pit
    3/09/2016 - 01:43 p.m.

    I had just admired on what Scott said "Yeah, I could go another 100 days. I could go another year, if I had to." I had admired it because it was breath taking that he could go longer. I just wonder how hard that would be for him and his family. He is a wonderful man to go up in space for a 340 days. That surprises me because I can't even survive a year without my dad and I am not the one leaving. If I was his daughter I would burst out with tears if he had to leave for so long. I am glad this man is helping us today. He is a very brave and loving soul. I say thank you Scott Kelly.

  • trumand-pit
    3/09/2016 - 01:44 p.m.

    I am just glad he did it in stead of me. I think that people are very brave to spend time in the cold harsh atmosphere of space. I like that Kelly said, ''The worst thing about being in space is that you don't get to see your family.'' But I think it is great that they have screens that can face time or call there family. I would probably miss my family a lot.

    • paytonp-pit
      3/09/2016 - 01:52 p.m.

      I don't agree with the I would not want to go in space I would actually want to go into space and I agree with the rest about the family that they will not see them and with the face timing.

  • arianna-hym
    3/09/2016 - 02:04 p.m.

    I think the space project is so important because Scott Kelly has been in space for about a year.

  • cole-hym
    3/09/2016 - 02:07 p.m.

    I think the space project is so important because it took Scott so long to do it.

  • zaire-hym
    3/09/2016 - 02:09 p.m.

    The years in space project so important because so the workers in NASA can get information so they can study new planets and worlds.

  • hannah-hym
    3/09/2016 - 02:12 p.m.

    I think the space trip is so important because NASA wanted to know what changed in time.

  • kylie-hym
    3/09/2016 - 02:18 p.m.

    I do not think I could live a year in space like Scott Kelly can. I think the year in space project is so important because spending a hole year in space is important because you have to do a project.

  • giovanni-hym
    3/09/2016 - 02:18 p.m.

    The year in space project is so important because now scientists can figure out ways to get to mars faster. It will also allow scientist to collect data from his Russian roommate Mikhail Kornikeo.

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