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)
  • curranm-
    3/01/2016 - 08:00 p.m.

    The year in space project is so important because it will help humans on the way to reach Mars and it will help scientists study affects on the human body in space. The text states,"Scientists hope to learn much from Kelly's mission. It will help to pave the way to Mars in about 20 years." This evidence proves that the year in space project will help humans on the way to reach Mars. The author also says,"NASA hopes the research on the genetically identical brothers will illuminate some of the more extreme effects of weightlessness on the body." This piece of evidence explains how the year in space project will help scientists to study the affects on the body in zero-gravity space.

  • shepherdc-
    3/01/2016 - 08:22 p.m.

    The year in space is so important for NASA because it will help scientist gain more knowledge and make the mission to Mars easier. As stated in the article, "Scientists hope to learn much from Kelly's mission. It will help to pave the way to Mars in about 20 years." Scientist can and will gain knowledge from this expedition.

  • jackh1234567891012-
    3/02/2016 - 07:06 a.m.

    A year in space important because scientists want to know how humans bodies react to space. In the text the author states that"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." This means that being space causes effects to the human body, so if the want to send astronauts to mars, they have to run tests to check how safe the trip is.

  • peytonnelson-bak
    3/02/2016 - 07:22 a.m.

    I want to see what space is like.

  • emilyb1-mar
    3/02/2016 - 09:41 a.m.

    The year in space project is important because it gives scientists information for future space flights and how to prevent any side effects from being in space for a year.

  • jonatanj-mar
    3/02/2016 - 09:45 a.m.

    This project is so important because this astronaut now has experience and he can help train the people going to mars. This trip also helped scientist learn a little more about space and mars.

  • diegof1-mar
    3/02/2016 - 09:46 a.m.

    This is really interesting and being in space for a full year must be weird when coming back. It will be very hard when people must leave to go to Mars.

  • ryanh-ver
    3/02/2016 - 09:56 a.m.

    What are the health effects that he got through this space mission and if they aren't good wouldn't that mean that we would need to try something new for people going to mars in the upcoming decades?

  • theaw-4-bar
    3/02/2016 - 10:15 a.m.

    The year in the space project was so important because researchers wanted to see the affects on the body of someone who had been in space for a year. "NASA hopes that the research on genetically identical brothers will illuminate some of the more extreme effects of weightlessness on the body." Personally I found this article very interesting. I found it interesting because I am an identical twin and it's cool to think that two humans can be in space for such a long time and be affected the same way. I also think it would be hard to be in space for so long. To conclude I liked this article.

  • masons1-pro
    3/02/2016 - 11:31 a.m.

    This years space project was so important because NASA was experimenting with genetic science for the crew.

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