The American astronaut's historic Year in Space has come to an end.
A Year in Space (Part 1)
It would take a brave astronaut to eat the dates, raisins and sweetened dough they serve up during the welcome home ceremony at Zheskagzan airport in Kazakhstan. Dates, raisins and sweetened dough would surely look good to a space station crew member who has just put in the average six-month hitch in orbit—to say nothing of Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko after nearly a full year.
But what an astronaut’s stomach says and what an astronaut’s otoliths say are two different things, and when you’re back on Earth and feeling the tug of gravity after a long period in weightlessness, it’s the otoliths—the little stones of floating calcium in the inner ear that govern balance and motion sickness—that rule.
For that reason, nobody ate a bite as Kelly, Kornienko and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, who only two hours before had landed in the steppe in their Soyuz spacecraft, were helped to their chairs in the airport receiving area, while Kazakh, Russian and American dignitaries applauded, a fusillade of cameras flashed, and four young women in traditional Kazakh costume—long, bright, yellow and green dresses with bright green head pieces—brought in the traditional foods.
There were other gifts too for the men who had begun their day 250 miles overhead, circling the planet once every 88 minutes. There was a medal for Volkov, who had commanded the spacecraft on its return. There were Russian nesting dolls with the likeness of each astronaut painted on the front.
And for Kelly, who has now flown four missions and holds the American record for longest unbroken stay in space, there was the inevitable question: “Would you consider going back?”
His answer was succinct: “I would always consider flying in space,” he said, “no question.”
Scott Kelly Happy to Be Back on Earth: ‘This Feels Great’
A Year in Space (Part 2)
The Best Photographs From Scott Kelly’s Year In Space
That may just be astronaut bravado, though you wouldn’t have known it to look at Kelly. Volkov entered the room with the telltale gait of a person just back from space—back straight, head upright, eyes locked ahead. He dared not turn to look at someone without rotating his entire body since pivoting his head—or, much worse, flicking his eyes—would bring on a dizzy, sickly swoon. Kornienko looked better, though he was drawn and clearly fatigued.
Kelly, however, nodded and turned and smiled and joked and looked every bit like a man who had spent the last 340 days on the Earth, not circling and circling and circling above it. “What’s with all the overcoats?” he asked the rescuers who extracted him from the capsule in the frigid wind of the frozen steppe. “This feels great.”
It should have felt great—and in a way that went beyond just the welcome sting of the cold air after a year in the never-changing atmosphere of the space station. The entire process of rescuing a Soyuz crew is an act of human caretaking on a massive scale. It takes a month of planning, the coordination of three countries, and the chess-board-like deployment of three separate teams of helicopters, all-terrain vehicles, snow mobiles and rescuers in a great triangle in northern Kazakhstan bounded by the citied of Katraganda, Zhezkasgan and Arkilik. Poor weather in one corner of the vast field would mean shifting part of the deployment to another. A shallow—or ballistic—reentry would have meant sprinting far south of all three cities for an emergency rescue at a less certain site.
Now that job is done, the biomedical work that was the entire purpose of the mission will begin. The more times astronauts go to space the better they adapt to the otherworldly state of zero-g and re-adapt to the leaden feel of a gravity field when they return, which helps explain Kelly’s apparent ease in the airport.
But the physical insults of space travel—the toll weightlessness takes on all of the body’s systems, not to mention the damage the constant bath of high radiation can do to the DNA—may be cumulative. A lone week in space might do much less damage than an additional week heaped on top of the 49 Kelly has just spent there.
The great twins experiment, with Kelly’s brother Mark serving as a genetically identical control subject, will help scientists determine which of the changes Scott’s body has undergone in the past year are indeed attributable to his time in orbit and which are the result of nothing more than a 51 year old man living the year that turns him 52.
Finding those answers will be critical to discovering whether human beings, who have the brass to talk about making a two or three year trip to Mars one day, actually have the bodies to back up that boast. That will mean more one-year astronauts, possibly quite a few more.
“We’re looking at as many as ten,” says Doug Wheelock, a NASA astronaut and the incoming director of NASA’s office at Star City, the Russian space agency’s headquarters outside of Moscow. “And to get a good data set we need a good mix of subjects, which means women and men, older crew members and younger ones, veterans and first timers. There’s a lot we have to learn.”
That is not cheering news for space partisans missing the golden era of the moon landings, weary of more than 40 years of rowing in circles in low Earth orbit and anxious to fly off and kick up some Mars dust already. But ambition can’t sprint ahead of safety—and there’s something to be said for the pokier pace of today compared to the headlong rush of the moon era.
The space race of then may have been a thing fueled by ambition and vision and a commitment to dream up the most difficult, outrageous, improbable thing we could, give ourselves a deadline—before the end of the 1960s and not a day later!—and then go off and do it. But it was fueled by other, less lovely things too. It was a very big piece of a very cold war, a battle of armies and ideologies and nuclear arms between the U.S. and the now-vanished U.S.S.R., and a flag on the moon for one side was meant as a finger in the eye to the other.
Scott Joseph Kelly (born February 21, 1964) is an American astronaut, engineer and a retired U.S. Navy Captain. A veteran of three previous missions, Kelly was selected along with Mikhail Korniyenko in November 2012 for a special year-long mission to the International Space Station.
Kelly commanded the International Space Station (ISS) on Expedition 26. Kelly's identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, is a former astronaut. The Kelly brothers are the only siblings to have traveled in space.
Kelly's first spaceflight was as pilot of Space Shuttle Discovery during STS-103 in December 1999. This was the third servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, and lasted for just under eight days. His second spaceflight was as mission commander of STS-118, a 12-day Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station in August 2007.
Kelly became a long-duration crewmember of ISS on October 9, 2010, after arriving on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. He arrived at the station during Expedition 25, serving as a flight engineer. He took over command of the station on November 25, 2010, at the start of Expedition 26 which began officially when the spacecraft Soyuz TMA-19 undocked, carrying the previous commander of the station, Douglas H. Wheelock.
He was Commander of the International Space Station on the one year mission until February 29, 2016, when he passed control to Timothy Kopra. In October 2015, he set the record for the total number of days spent in space by an American astronaut, 382. Kelly spent 340 consecutive days in space.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Best Photographs From Scott Kelly’s Year In Space
The Best Photographs From Scott Kelly’s Year In Space
Planet Earth seen from space
The International Space Station (ISS) has a module, or room, called the cupola. The cupola is a dome-shaped room with seven windows where astronauts control the Space Station’s robotic arm, communicate with other crew members, and observe spacewalks. It is also a favorite hangout for astronauts who take hundreds of photos of the Earth each day! These photos help us understand and appreciate our home planet.
International Space Station (ISS)
Earth Eastern Hemisphere
Scott Kelly answers your questions about life in space, Mars mission
(CNN) Astronaut Scott Kelly has been back on Earth for about three weeks since completing his groundbreaking year in space and he's still adjusting to the sensation of having solid ground beneath his feet.
"The most overwhelming part of it is gravity itself and I still haven't gotten over it completely," Kelly told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta during a live Facebook chat Monday night.
Although Kelly announced that he will be retiring from NASA, he said he is still dedicated to the formal data collection process of the Twin Study, which is an ongoing look at the effects on Kelly after a year in space, versus that of his twin brother, Mark, who remained on Earth. And while he doesn't miss living "in constant noise" with fans, pumps and motors constantly whirring in the background on the International Space Station, Kelly seems in awe of the incredible experience he was able to have in his "second home."
And the surprising thing that made the return trip home? His glasses. "These are the glasses that launched with me and I never lost them in space," Kelly said, referring to the lenses he wore during the chat. "This is more of a miracle because stuff just floats away up there."
Kelly also believes that the space station is proof that we can do anything. "That space station is such a complicated facility and was so difficult to build and such an achievement. If we put our minds to it, we can achieve anything we want, whether that's curing cancer or going to Mars, we can do it, we just have to put the resources behind it."
Kelly answered questions for nearly an hour. Here are some of them. Some of them have been edited for clarity or brevity.
How are you feeling? I felt significantly different coming back. Initially, I felt better coming out of the Soyuz. Maybe it was adrenaline or that I had experienced that once before. After that, I felt much different. My legs have had kind of a negative reaction to gravity and it's kind of shocking how for the first couple of weeks my legs were swollen, sore, the joints, my muscles, and when I stood up at night I could tell my whole cardiovascular system wasn't used to keeping the blood out of my legs. Its like when you turn upside down on the monkey bars and feel the rush of blood to your head. It was the same way with my legs and I could feel them swell up and it was kind of alarming. But I'm slowly getting better, but I still get up very slowly. I'm not really able to run yet. I think I'm already improving and will over time.
What was happening to your legs to cause you pain? Being in space for so long, your cardiovascular system doesn't have to keep the blood from pooling in your legs due to gravity when you're standing up -- that's why your head gets swollen when you're in space. Over the course of the first several months you're there, you lose fluid. Now you have gravity pushing all of that fluid back into your legs. I think the muscles in your cardiovascular system aren't able to physically adjust the pressure like they do when you live in gravity all of the time.
What are your thoughts on Mars? If you were asked to be that guy who goes to Mars, what would you say now? A couple of weeks ago, I would've said I'm not that interested in Mars, but now I am probably more interested. If we go to Mars and we land on Mars and we stay on Mars, we can experience Martian gravity and don't have an ultra-long time in microgravity, which I think is helpful. I think where we run into issues is flying around Mars and coming back, because then you have guys in space for a year and a half. I wouldn't say you can't but I would say that's pretty significant based on my experience.
My first flight was seven days, my second 13, my third 159, my fourth 340. If I had to graph how I felt, it's a linear of things. You add another couple hundred days, and if I felt 50% worse than how I feel now, that would be pretty hard to get around when I got back. There were a couple of nights there after I got back that I felt so bad that had I not spent a year in space, I would have gone to the emergency room. It was a combination of every place my skin was touching was inflamed, legs were so sore it was hard to get out of bed, and it was almost that delirious feeling you get when you have the flu, too.
What scared you the most while in space and what did you do to overcome that fear? The thing I've always feared the most is not my own personal safety but the safety of my kids, people you love on the ground and something bad happening to them and you not being able to do anything about that. I experienced that on my last flight with my sister-in-law Gabby Giffords being shot, and having had that experience once, I know how difficult it is to deal with a situation like that where no matter what, you cannot be there. There are only a handful of things that will allow you to leave the space station, and all of them have to do with the space station -- none are on Earth. It's because of a fire, depressurization or a medical emergency for one of the crew members. No matter what happens to your kids and loved ones, you are not coming home.
What is it like leaving the space station and landing on Earth? This place is your home and I respected the achievement that is the space station. When I was leaving, I knew I would most likely never see it again, so that's kind of bittersweet. Backing away in the Soyuz, I was thinking how having lived there so long, how this is the hardest thing we've ever done, it was harder than going to the moon, building this facility that has this incredible amount of potential and it really struck me, I felt privileged to be a part of it.
I've always struggled explaining how small the Soyuz is that you come back in and it dawned on me that the way I can explain it: As small as it can be, you can actually fit three people in it. It's tiny. It is the brute force method of getting back from space. You go from 17,500 mph to basically losing all of that speed in 5-10 minutes when you're bleeding all of that energy. It's like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel but while you're on fire. And when you realize it's not going to kill you, it's the most fun you've ever had.
What are the advantages to doing experiments on the space station?It's microgravity. The only way on Earth you can do is put something in a centrifuge and increase the gravity component. In microgravity, we have something we cannot do on Earth. You can do it in an airplane for 20 seconds in a parabolic flight or drop something off a tower and experience it for a short amount of time, but the environment of the space station provides the ability to change that and whether it's combustion technology or how cells might grow in a bioreactor or protein crystals, a variable that you can make nearly zero that, on Earth you don't have the capability of doing that. So you can learn different things by controlling that on the space station.
Do you get colds and flu on the ISS, or are you protected due to the isolation?A lot of people get congested, but it's not because of virus or bacteria, part of it's a fluid shift or part of it is like an allergen, but not like cold or flu. Your skin cells are floating around and other people's skin cells and we have a good ventilation system that draws that in but, on Earth you would never be breathing in someone else's skin cells that come off their body. Also the CO2 on board is 10 times higher than what it is on Earth. One of the ways myself and others react to that is some pretty significant congestion, headaches, in my case, it irritates my eyes. I wouldn't want to live forever in that kind of CO2 environment. When it gets up around 3.8 millimeters of mercury, it can affect your cognitive ability as well. It's definitely something to emphasize for future vehicles.
Mentally, how did you cope being up there so long?A year is a long time to be up there. I was lucky in that I had flown before for 159 days and knew how to pace myself. I think in some ways being the first person to spend this amount of time up there adds that excitement value. It made the time go by a little easier. In June, I had been up there for a few months, and I thought, "Wow I will be there until next March." It's hard to get your head around. It's an amazing space station, but you cannot leave. It's like being at work in the office for a really long time.
Mars or the moon?Where should we go next and why? I think there is a lot to still be learned from going to the moon and it's a great place to develop and test out your technology for going to Mars, it's almost like it's designed perfectly to do that. It's closer, it's smaller from a gravity perspective, it has no atmosphere so you don't have to deal with the issues of the Martian atmosphere. But the problem with it though is that it's expensive, and we don't have an unlimited amount of money. In a perfect world, you would use the moon as a way to test systems, technology and procedures before you go to Mars, but we have other priorities. But maybe it makes sense to the people who make these decisions that going to Mars first without going back to moon is a better way to do it.
What do you miss seeing the most from the ISS? I miss the guys I was up there with, especially the three that are up there now. As the more experienced one, you're nurturing them along, and when you leave it kind of feels like you're abandoning them. And the overall mission of doing something that is incredibly difficult and challenging. I miss looking out at the Earth but I realized I had looked out at the Earth a lot when I opened the window shade in the cupola and saw this spot of sand and I could tell just by the color and texture instantly that it was this area just north of Mogadishu in Somalia and I'm thinking, this is how you know it is time to go home.
IMAX - International Space Station
The ISS is a third generation modular space station. Modular stations can allow the mission to be changed over time and new modules can be added or removed from the existing structure, allowing greater flexibility.
Zarya , also known as the Functional Cargo Block or FGB was the first module of the International Space Station to be launched. The FGB provided electrical power, storage, propulsion, and guidance to the ISS during the initial stage of assembly. With the launch and assembly in orbit of other modules with more specialized functionality, Zarya is now primarily used for storage, both inside the pressurized section and in the externally mounted fuel tanks. The Zarya is a descendant of the TKS spacecraft designed for the Soviet Salyut program. The name Zarya was given to the FGB because it signified the dawn of a new era of international cooperation in space. Although it was built by a Russian company, it is owned by the United States. Zarya weighs 19,300 kg (42,500 lb), is 12.55 m (41.2 ft) long and 4.1 m (13 ft) wide, discounting solar arrays.
Built from December 1994 to January 1998 in Russia at the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center (KhSC) in Moscow, Zarya's control system was developed by the Khartron Corp. (Kharkiv, Ukraine).
Zarya was launched on 20 November 1998, on a Russian Proton rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 81 in Kazakhstan to a 400 km (250 mi) high orbit with a designed lifetime of at least 15 years. After Zarya reached orbit, STS-88 launched on 4 December 1998, to attach the Unity Module.
Although only designed to fly autonomously for six to eight months, Zarya did so for almost two years because of delays with the Russian Service Module, Zvezda, which finally launched on 12 July 2000, and docked with Zarya on 26 July using the Russian Kurs docking system.
International Space Station
International Space Station
Astronauts: Living in Space
Astronauts A groundbreaking and exciting season of programmes made in collaboration with NASA, taking viewers into space with the astronauts on the International Space Station Astronauts: Living in Space This intriguing documentary reveals what it's like to live and work in space for months at a time, through the eyes of astronauts Rick Mastracchio, Koichi Wakata, Mike Hopkins and their families. Rick and Koichi reveal what it means to them to do a job that is out of this world. The programme demonstrates how the main function of the International Space Station - to carry out research experiments for a wide range of scientists around the world - fits in to Rick and Koichi's daily life. It also shows how the astronauts approach day-to-day tasks like eating, sleeping and washing in completely different ways. Viewers can see, in detail, the effects of microgravity on the astronauts' bodies and how pioneering science and medicine are being used to tackle this, as Rick and Koichi become human guinea pigs in the quest to extend the human body's ability to spend longer periods in microgravity. The programme also explores the psychological effects of being in space and how NASA supports the crews and families during their missions. The programme meets Rick, Koichi and Mike's wives, Candi, Stephi and Julie, and hears their heart-warming conversations with their husbands. Finally, viewers learn about returning home with a bump, via a Russian Soyuz, and how astronauts adjust back to life on Earth.
International Space Station (ISS)
Discovery Building the Biggest International Space Station
Four hundred kilometres above the Earth, a remarkable structure is taking shape. From a distance it looks like some kind of sci-fi mechanical insect with several sets of shiny rectangular wings attached to a cylindrical, segmented body.
International Space Station
Space Men (Part 1) Ditch the rocket, take a balloon to space
In the 1950s and early '60s, a small band of high-altitude pioneers exposed themselves to the extreme forces of the space age long before NASA's acclaimed Mercury 7 would make headlines. Though largely forgotten today, balloonists were the first to venture into the frozen near-vacuum on the edge of our world, exploring the very limits of human physiology and human ingenuity in this lethal realm.
International Space Station
Space Men (Part 2) Space Balloon
BBC The Sky at Night - Five Greatest Images of the Solar System
An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet that orbits a star other than the Sun. Over 2000 exoplanets have been discovered since 1988 (more specifically, 2107 planets in 1349 planetary systems, including 511 multiple planetary systems, have been confirmed, as of 2 April 2016).