How would you prepare to spend a year in space? NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, Expedition 25 flight engineer, is pictured in the Cupola of the International Space Station in 2010 (Reuters)
How would you prepare to spend a year in space?
Lexile

An American astronaut and Russian cosmonaut are just two months shy of launching to the International Space Station for an entire year. Already, though, scientists are clamoring for additional long-term subjects.

Two people are not enough from a scientific perspective, said NASA's space station program scientist, Julie Robinson. The space agency wants to start collecting data from Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko before making any firm decisions on further one-year missions, she said.

NASA and its partners Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada are considering as many as 12 one-year test subjects at the space station. All but Russia are new to such long orbital hauls.

Both space veterans in their 50s, Kelly and Kornienko will rocket into orbit in late March from Kazakhstan and remain aboard the space station until the following March.

It will be the first time NASA sends someone into space for 12 months. Station stints typically last six months. The Russians are old pros at this, but medical and technological breakthroughs since Russia's yearlong missions from the 1980s and 1990s means even more will be learned this time around, according to Robinson. The two sides will collaborate on many of the experiments.

NASA wants to learn how the body fares after a year in space, before committing to lengthy trips to Mars and elsewhere.

Right now, it's a big question mark as to what happens beyond six months in orbit.

"What we don't know right now is what that six- to 12-month period looks like," Robinson said. "We're talking about it scientifically, but we're not really having deep discussions about it until we have the first information from the first two. If we see something dramatic, that's going to change how everybody looks at having additional one-year missions."

Kelly will provide an especially unique set of data.

His blood and urine samples, as well as other measurements, will be compared with those from his identical twin brother, Mark, a retired astronaut.

Last week, space station program manager Mike Suffredini said NASA may wait until commercially developed crew capsules are ready to launch astronauts from U.S. soil, before building on Kelly and Kornienko's flight. That won't happen before 2017 or 2018. SpaceX and Boeing are the two chosen contractors.

Since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet in 2011, Russian Soyuz spacecraft have served as the only means to ferry crew to and from the space station.

Critical thinking challenge: Why isn't NASA making any firm decisions about long-term stints in space?

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COMMENTS (19)
  • atayal-Orv
    2/03/2015 - 04:27 p.m.

    that will be fun going into to space for a year. i will take pictures all my friends can see. it will be a wonder full experience.

  • brandonjaclin
    2/04/2015 - 10:16 a.m.

    Long term stints in space could possibly kill you and could badly damage your body but we just dont know that yet. Long term stints could be fatal because we have never done this before

  • brandonjaclin
    2/04/2015 - 10:17 a.m.

    Long term stints in space could possibly kill you and could badly damage your body but we just dont know that yet. Long term stints could be fatal because we have never done this before

  • Savannahwi-Fre
    2/04/2015 - 12:57 p.m.

    Based on what I read, this article is about how NASA is thinking of having people in space for a year, instead of 6 months.I am really glad that isn't me because I would be scare to go to space. l would be scared that something will happen and something will go wrong. I also think it would be fun in a way because you can see what is up in space and have the experience of floating around and only eating space food (which in my opinion, it's gross).

  • luiss-DiB
    2/04/2015 - 01:00 p.m.

    I believe that a year living in such extreme conditions might be hard for a human but if its successful it can make a big difference.

  • pabloc-DiB
    2/04/2015 - 01:04 p.m.

    I think spending 12 months in space is kinda cool but risky , because of spending too long in a rocket and the food is frozen food.

  • EthanI-5
    2/04/2015 - 07:24 p.m.

    NASA has sent 2 people up in space for a year. They are going to see if there blood is different then regular blood. I think the guys i will get bored up there and there would not be much to do anyways so i would not go up.

  • ShaniaWentz-Ste
    2/05/2015 - 08:02 a.m.

    Wow! Spending a year in space would be really cool to experience. Just imagine: the meteors right outside your windows, space food available 24/7, and "swimming" in mid-air! It would be amazing. However, it would also be a bit dangerous because if you got sick or needed attention immediately, you wouldn't be able to get that! I wish all of these astronauts the best of luck!

  • KiraWvA-4
    2/05/2015 - 11:15 p.m.

    Two astronauts, Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko, will live in the space station for a year, double what all of NASA's partners (except Russia) are used to. They will be monitored and Kelly's samples will be analyzed next to samples from his twin brother, a retired astronaut.This will serve as a test of human resistance to the environment on Mars and long space journeys. I thought this article was interesting because of the twisted nature of sending terrestrial creatures into a vacuum where they have no method of survival except a man-made shell around them, and the exciting aspect of going where or how no animal on Earth has ever gone.

  • BP2001Barca
    2/06/2015 - 08:44 a.m.

    NASA is very close to send an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut into space for a full year! This is going to be the first time people go into space for a whole year.

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