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, Scott Kelly, is scheduled to return to Earth today after nearly a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station. High on his to-do list when he gets back: jumping into his pool and dining at a real table.
 
Yet he said he could hold out another year in the "harsh environment" of space - where nothing ever feels normal - if he had to.
 
"Yeah, I could go another 100 days. I could go another year if I had to," Kelly assured reporters Thursday 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, is being separated from his loved ones, 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 he checks out and 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, set by a Russian cosmonaut in the 1990s. Even that will pale in comparison to a Mars expedition, expected to last two to three years round trip.
 
Scientists hope to learn much from Kelly's mission to pave the way to Mars in two decades. They will also collect data from his Russian roommate for the year, Mikhail Kornienko.
 
Kelly, 52, a former space shuttle commander, will undergo a battery of medical and physical tests at the landing site. He will then be hustled home to Houston for more tests and weeks if not months of rehabilitation to recover from the punishing effects of an extended stay in zero gravity, including degraded vision and the loss of bone and muscle.
 
Awaiting his arrival in Houston will be his two daughters, his girlfriend, who works in public affairs at Johnson Space Center and his identical twin, former astronaut Mark Kelly.
 
The brothers have submitted to similar medical tests for more than a year and 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 Kelly brothers talked often during the mission, more than they did before the flight, in fact. The 250-mile-high outpost has an Internet phone capable of calling anyone. Mission Control also arranges regular video conferences between astronauts and their families.
 
"For him, living in space and being so far detached from life on Earth, 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, which lasted 159 days. That was because of the assassination attempt two months earlier on his congresswoman sister-in-law, Gabrielle Giffords, Mark's wife.
 
This time, Kelly said, he didn't focus on the end of his mission but rather on each upcoming milestone: the arrival of supplies and crews, major experiments, spacewalks, 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 - a gag gift from Mark - and cavorting through the station while the cameras rolled.
 
"Next milestone's coming home," Kelly said with a smile.
 
He ended the news conference with a slow-motion backflip - 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 (20)
  • morganm-pla
    3/01/2016 - 02:31 p.m.

    This news story talks about how an astronaut spent a year in space and how when he returns to earth he will be faced with multiple health exams. It also states that his twin brother will be there for NASA to compare the effects that space can have on the human body.

    This then relates to civic engagement because the health exams will then be there for all astronauts, past and present, what the actual effects of being in zero-gravity for so long can do to a humans body.

  • drews-pla
    3/01/2016 - 10:17 p.m.

    American astronaut Scott Kelly is set to return today from a nearly year-long flight in space, a record for Americans. Upon Kelly’s return, he will participate in a variety of tests and examinations in order to determine the result of long-term space travel. Spending time in space can be both physically and mentally draining. Some possible side effects include: lowered muscle mass and worsened vision. Kelly noted that he was very excited to finally see his family and friends once again. Kelly demonstrated civic engagement by volunteering to venture into space in order to study the effects of space travel. Kelly is providing NASA with valuable information that will be used to enhance future space expeditions.

  • davidm-obr
    3/02/2016 - 01:36 p.m.

    Scott Kelly from the United States is part of the year in space project, his brother is going to be compared with him because they are twins and they are almost the same. The reason this project is important because they have to see the long term effects of no gravity and what it does to the bodies of people. One reason is that if people are to go to mars they have to know what's going to happen to their bodies and what to do for their own bodies for exercise and nutrition for their bones, muscles, and eyes because they degrade in space .

    Scott is leaving space on his 340th day and will land in Kazakhstan which he will be tested as soon as he touches down, and then will be flown back to Houston to study him and his twin to see what happened.

  • holdeno-3-bar
    3/03/2016 - 12:21 p.m.

    The year in space project is so important because it provides statistical info that could be useful for a Mars trip. The author said that "scientists hope to learn much from Kelly's mission to pave the way to Mars in two decades" (par. 7) The space environment affects humans in many ways. Effects include, but are not limited to, muscular atrophy and macular degeneration. If scientists know more about how these occur, they can prevent these problems during a longer space expedition.
    I enjoyed this article because it entails space exploration. I would like to be one of the scientists helping to send the astronauts to Mars, not the people who would be going there.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    3/05/2016 - 10:36 p.m.

    The year in space project is important because it will help scientists plan for trips to Mars. The scientists will be able to look at the effects being in space had on Kelly, allowing them to better understand and prepare for the conditions of space.

  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    3/07/2016 - 06:24 p.m.

    I wouldn't be able to be an astronaut. It would be way to overwhelming for me. I'm glad, though that this guy likes it so much.

  • paigem1-pit
    3/09/2016 - 01:38 p.m.

    I believe that the year in space project was so very important because it shows what affect antigravity has on the human body, as well as offers a small "test drive" to see what going to Mars will be like. In the article it said they were giving Scott tests and comparing it to his brother's test results who lives on Earth. "NASA hopes the research on the genetically identical brothers will illuminate some of the more extreme effects of weightlessness on the body." (Dunn) I have to admit, reading about this kind of reminded me of the movie "The Martian", about trying to live in antigravity. I am very excited to see what will happen in the future with the matter of the human body in space.

    • cameronh-pit
      3/09/2016 - 01:49 p.m.

      I like that you said that it was a test drive to see what Mars will be like. But I am kind of unclear on your quote you used. I am wondering why you put that particular.

  • trevora-pit
    3/09/2016 - 01:40 p.m.

    The year in space project is so important because this can show all the struggles for being in space for to long. This info can come in handy for a mars mission and give them ideas for how they can prepare for longer space missions. He said that one of the problems is the hygiene in space because there is no running water. "It is kind of like I've been camping in the wood for a year." Also he said that there is not a lot to do up there but his identical twin helped him with that problem by sending him a life sized monkey suit. I think all of this information could really help if we want to go to mars because then we could find ways to help with these minor and major issues.

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

    The year in space project is so important because it is the longest anyone has ever been out in space. "Day 335 of what already is NASA's longest single spaceflight." Anyone would have to be very committed to go a year in space, because he would barely ever see his family and friends. "One of the only real lifelines you have, one of the best ones, is certainly the ability to make a phone call," Another reason that the year in space project is to important, is scientists hope to learn enough from Kelly's mission to be able to get to Mars next time.

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