NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly Returns From Year In Space

The 52-year-old NASA astronaut is due back on Earth on Tuesday night after spending 340 straight days — and more than 140 million miles — in space, along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko.
That means they’ll once again get to experience fresh, running water (no more drinking recycled urine and sweat), a mere one sunrise and sunset per day (instead of 16 of each), and, oh yes, that all-but-forgotten force called gravity.

See below for NASA Television’s full coverage of Kelly’s return to Earth, which begins at 4:15 p.m. EST with a farewell and hatch closure. De-orbit and landing coverage is scheduled to begin at 10:15 p.m.
The year-long mission aboard the International Space Station will help NASA better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to long-duration spaceflight, as the agency develops capabilities for manned missions to Mars by the 2030s.

“I’d like for the legacy of this flight to be that we can decide to do hard things, and hard things that will take us farther away from the Earth,” Kelly said during his last news conference from orbit last Thursday. “I’d like to think that this is another of many stepping stones to us landing on Mars sometime in our future.”

Kelly added that when he thinks about the ISS — a 1 million-pound, football field-sized laboratory that flies around the Earth at 17,500 miles per hour — he feels there’s nothing man can’t accomplish.

“If we can dream it, you know, we can do it — if we really want to,” he said.
Until a manned Mars mission, Kelly will just have to settle for the simple pleasures of life on Earth, like going for a stroll and eating food that stays put on a plate.

During their year in space, Kelly and Kornienko orbited Earth 5,440 times, traveling a total 143,846,525 miles, according to NASA.

The 340-day mission falls a few weeks shy of a full year. Still, Kelly will return to Earth with the record among U.S. astronauts for both consecutive days and cumulative time (520 days) in space. Russian Valeri Polyakov holds the all-time record for consecutive time in space, spending 438 days aboard the Russian Mir space station back in 1994 and 1995.

Kelly said that while he’s not “climbing the walls” of his home-away-from-home and could go another 100 days, or even another year in the “harsh environment” if necessary, he is excited about returning to civilization.

“It’s kind of like I’ve been in the woods camping for a year, with regards to hygiene,” he said. “And then the fact that everything floats makes your daily life just more difficult.”

During a live broadcast on Monday, Kelly handed over command of the orbiting lab to American astronaut Tim Kopra. Nearing the end of his fourth mission in space, Kelly said leaving the station is “always bittersweet.”

“Spaceflight is the biggest team sport there is, and it’s incredibly important that we all work together to make what is seemingly impossible, possible,” he said during the broadcast.

Kelly and Kornienko are scheduled to touch down in Kazakhstan at 11:25 p.m. NASA Television’s coverage will continue with Kelly’s return to Houston on Wednesday and post-flight briefings Friday.

Lucky for us, Kelly’s recent journey to space will live on through his photography. In between the hundreds of experiments he conducted during his mission, Kelly found time to photograph Earth from his unique vantage point. The results have been nothing short of awe-inspiring.



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