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

Kelly and Kornienko are space veterans in their 50s. They will rocket into orbit in late March from Kazakhstan. They will 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. The two sides will collaborate on many of the experiments.

NASA wants to learn how the body fares after a year in space. That's before it commits to lengthy trips to Mars and elsewhere.

Right now, what happens beyond six months in orbit is a big question mark.

"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 Kelly is a retired astronaut.

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.

The U.S. space shuttle fleet was retired in 2011. Since then, Russian Soyuz spacecraft have served as the only means to ferry crews 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 (71)
  • MaxG-4
    2/03/2015 - 03:08 p.m.

    This article is about a mission to send what was originally going to only be 2 people into space for a year. I say originally because arguments have been posed of sending up to 12 people. They would stay at the International Space Station. NASA wants to use this information to help figure out how this could be used to help with future missions such as those to Mars. Not enough information has been collected on how the body fares after one year in space. This is believed to help remedy that.

    This is a good article because it is showing drive for technological progression. We can learn what large amounts of time without gravity or the fact of just being on earth can do to the body. All in all is makes this a fairly interesting article with no political something or other for me to ramble about.

  • igallagher11
    2/03/2015 - 06:59 p.m.

    When I'm at home trying to go to sleep, I make a list of things I need for diffrent scenarios. For when I'm living in Antarctica,when I'm going to climb Mt.Fugi and even what would bring to the moon. An American astronaut is preparing for his year journey to space. Scientists are clamoring for additional long term subjects. The point of this journey is NASA wants to learn how the body fares after a year in space.

  • Tripp_Barrick
    2/03/2015 - 07:31 p.m.

    I think that they aren't committing to any long term projects because they don't know what the effects of no gravity could have on the human body and if it could damage or even kill someone.

  • Koehler2001
    2/03/2015 - 08:28 p.m.

    I really like what NASA is doing here, it's such a smart way to do so. Instead of spending millions on simulations, X-ray and bodly fluid scans, and zeroG compartments, they can just send some people to space and do all that in space, brilliant! Way more productive than the former. With this research we'll be on Mars in no time.

  • ashton.slagle56
    2/04/2015 - 11:57 a.m.

    If NASA is thinking of making a space elevator to the ISS I think that will be very hard because you would have to sync the speed of the ISS with the earths turning speed. good luck.

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

    If I had to prepare for living in space for a year then The main thing I would pack is a bunch of food. I would also pack a journal to write about my journey in space. I would make sure to bring water & Medicine just in case. I would also pack clothing so I don't feel dirty. Then I would pack a camera so I could take pictures of space and remember for the rest of my life what it looked like. I would also bring pillows or shampoo and water and soap so I could clean my self, you know I got to stay clean and healthy.

  • levenicel-Orv
    2/04/2015 - 04:31 p.m.

    if i had to prepare myself to spend a year in space I'm going to need a phone, a ps4, my girl friend,a basketball and court, my favorite foods, TV, and that is what i would need to prepare my self for a ear in space.

  • Sydney3381
    2/04/2015 - 06:29 p.m.

    Astronauts have been going into space for a long time. I've heard of astronauts going into space for a month or two but a full year? I can't believe astronauts are going ijto space for twelve months. They have to prepare, train, and go through so many simulations. Kelly and Kornienko are brave people and are willing to go uo there for scientific evolution and discoveries. If I was going up into space for a year I would be terrified and so nervous. And knowing that nobody has ever been in outer space for more than six months is crazy, they have the guts to enure twice as long as that. I hope that the two astronauts are safe and as comfortable as the spaceships will allow them to be. Hopefully they discover some very interesting things up there!

  • GabiD-1
    2/04/2015 - 10:03 p.m.

    In two months, NASA is going to send two astronauts into space for a whole year. The US are working with Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada to accomplish this task. I think this is cool because it has been a year since NASA last sent someone into space.

  • SabrinaD3
    2/05/2015 - 12:17 a.m.

    We are months away from launching two men into space for an entire year for the first time. NASA is funding this project so they can see how a year in space affects the human body. NASA wants to gather information before they think about sending a man to mars or on any other long term space expedition. The men are planing on taking off in late March and coming back next March.
    I found this article very interesting. I think it is a good idea to see how a year in space affects a human before NASA begins to plan an expedition to Mars.

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