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 expected 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 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. 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, is being separated from his loved ones. It is 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 in about 20 years. The scientists will also collect data from his Russian roommate for the year. He is Mikhail Kornienko.
 
Kelly, 52, 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 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, who works in public affairs at Johnson Space Center. His identical twin, former astronaut Mark Kelly will also be there.
 
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 Kellys 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 (251)
  • aidanc2-sch
    3/01/2016 - 12:43 p.m.

    This reminds me of a personal connection because my grandfather was training to be an astronaut but he had to drop out because he got cancer.

    • anjar-kut
      3/03/2016 - 05:13 p.m.

      Aww how sad he had to give up the coolest job ever! I hope he ends up all right.

    • anjar-kut
      3/03/2016 - 05:17 p.m.

      Its incredible humans can survive these crazy conditions! I know I would not last long without ground or water! Then again it would be so much fun to do flips and to be able to float in space! I wonder how the first time walking would be after a year in space!

  • briannec-ste
    3/01/2016 - 01:01 p.m.

    I don't know how excited I would be to have to go up into space. Maybe one day would be fun but I couldn't go a year without running water.

  • cristinaa-sch
    3/01/2016 - 01:43 p.m.

    Critical thinking: A year in space project may be so important because it is like a challenge or a quest that they wanted to do for a lifetime.1: who: Kelly
    What: A year in space
    When: Today he is coming back
    Where: In space
    Why: It is in his bucket list
    How: He's an astronaut

  • brycep-kut
    3/01/2016 - 02:08 p.m.

    This will benefit humanity majorly .We can discover new planets and discover new life forms .This is great . we can explore the stars .This a great thing !!!!

  • connerc1-jen
    3/01/2016 - 02:30 p.m.

    you can learn new things about space.

  • wilsoash3-dil
    3/01/2016 - 02:43 p.m.

    To see the effects that could change your feature when your in space for a whole year, in a non gravity area and no oxygen exept that from an oxygen tank.

  • davism-
    3/01/2016 - 03:41 p.m.

    A year in space project is important because, when the person gets back from space the scientists can ask important questions about whatever to learn about space and the planets. It is also important to know if our planet Earth will at some point have its crisis that we can start moving people to Mars. The important thing about that is we have to know when it is safe to travel there.

  • anthonyg1-ver
    3/01/2016 - 06:20 p.m.

    I think it is important because only a few astronaut can/will last a year before they co home, and experience more harsh effects then like a month... I also think it is important because it was one of the longest times spent in space.

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