By Scott Stenholm - Editorial Producer, Larry King Now
Today marks the end of NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly's year-long journey in space. Kelly will depart the space station and land back on Earth tonight, becoming the first American to spend a year in space.
As NASA noted in a Facebook post Tuesday morning, "Twice the duration of a typical mission, Kelly’s station-record 340 days in space afforded researchers a rare opportunity to study the medical, physiological, and psychological and performance challenges astronauts face during long-duration spaceflight."
This study will provide essential research which will aide NASA in its plans for long-form missions in space such as a manned-mission to Mars. Kelly's twin brother, Mark, is also being evaluated here on Earth to see how the two brothers aged differently.
NASA posted some incredible facts about the #YearInSpace on their Tumblr page:
- During their year in space, Kelly and [Russian cosmonaut] Kornienko traveled over 143 million miles, conducting research to prepare us for our journey to Mars, which will be about 140,000,000 miles from Earth.
- Over the last year, the ISS has orbited Earth 5,440 times! The International Space Station travels at a speed of 5 miles per second and orbits the Earth every 90 minutes.
- 9 visiting vehicles docked with the ISS in the last year. These visiting vehicles brought food, supplies, experiments and more crew members to the space station.
- Since the space station is orbiting the Earth at 17,500 miles per hour, the crew onboard sees 16 sunrises and sunsets each day. That's more than 9,500 more sunrises and sunsets than we see here on Earth in a year.
- Water is a precious and limited resource in space, so crew members recycle it whenever possible. That includes recycling their own urine.
Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are set to depart tonight. At 7:45 PM ET NASA begins its undocking coverage, with the Soyuz spacecraft set to undock from the ISS at 8:05 pm ET. You can watch all the action below in NASA's live stream below.
Kelly has also delighted millions of us here on Earth with his awe-inspiring posts on social media that featured pictures and videos of Earth from his unique perspective nearly 250 miles above.
Last August, Kelly joined Larry King Now from aboard the space station. In the video below, he talked about a recent ‘first’ in space travel: the first food grown and eaten in space. This program could prove vital in a long distance mission to Mars or, eventually, newly discovered planets.
Below he explains how extended time in space can result in bone loss, vision loss, and dangerous radiation exposure.
And even astronauts in space need some down time. In the video below, Kelly revealed that he and his NASA colleague, Kjell Lindgren, had been re-watching episodes of the hit AMC series Breaking Bad -- even introducing the show to their Japanese colleague.
You can watch our whole interview with Scott Kelly on-demand here on Ora.TV and Hulu.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.