Astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth this week after 340 days aboard the International Space Station.
One of the main objectives of the out-of-the-world mission, aptly named “Twin Study” is to observe how well human bodies, minds and spirits can endure on a lengthy spaceflight. Kelly and his identical brother, Mark Kelly – who is a retired fellow astronaut and husband to former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords – will be examined by NASA doctors.
The study, it appears, was a success.
In one striking example, Scott Kelly grew two inches taller during his year in space. As a member of the International Space Station, Kelly saw 11,000 sunsets and 5,400 planetary orbits, and his time in space ranks among the leaders in history.
According to Good 4 Utah, this lengthening of the spine is temporary and Scott will return to his original height eventually.
In a NASA interview before heading home to Houston, where he arrived early Thursday, Kelly said it was “amazing” to feel the cold air when the hatch of his Soyuz capsule popped open after touchdown. The Russians hold the world record for days in space – 438 – set back in the mid-1990s at the former Mir space station.
Since his journey back to earth started, the cosmonaut has been reacquainting himself to life on earth. Scott Kelly landed here last night and went right back to work.
“I’m going to go home and jump in my pool”, he said.
When astronauts return to Earth, they must re-adjust to gravity and can have issues with balance and simple tasks like standing up, walking or operating a vehicle.
He notes that Kelly’s medical study with NASA will continue long after this year, with yearly physical checkups. “They’ve talked about my year in space, it’s not my achievement, it’s NASA’s achievement and it’s our country’s achievement.” he said. NASA wants to see how the identical twins measure up after a year in two very different environments: Scott in space and Mark on Earth.
As for his space legacy, Kelly said he and Kornienko “were a small part” in setting the stage for Mars. “We must lead, we must learn, and we must discover”. They tackled 400 experiments, some of them unpleasant.
Make no mistake, “a year’s a long time”, according to Kelly.
Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko were launched to the space station last March 27. Volkov is returning after six months on the station.
The positive sentiments were echoed by West Orange Councilwoman Susan McCartney, who said, “l look forward to working with the Chamber of Commerce, the Pleasant Valley Civic Association and the community on a Pleasant Valley Way parade to honor Commander Kelly”.