NASA astronaut Scott Kelly successfully returned to Earth on Tuesday after spending 340 days in space onboard the International Space Station (ISS). He is now set to take part in several studies that will help researchers find out more about the potential of man for long-term space travel.
Kelly, along with Russian cosmonauts and fellow ISS crew members Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov, boarded a Soyuz TMA-18M space capsule for the trip back to the planet. They were able to make a touchdown near a remote town called Zhezkazgan in the Kazakhstan steppes on Tuesday at 11:26 p.m. Eastern.
According to NASA administrator Charles Bolden, Kelly's year-long stay on the ISS has helped advance their research on deep space exploration as well as in their preparation for the planned journey to Mars.
By becoming the first NASA astronaut to spend a year in space, Bolden said Kelly has helped their efforts make a giant leap toward sending people to the Red Planet.
Kelly is now on his way back to the United States from Kazakhstan. He is expected to arrive in Houston on Thursday at 12:55 a.m. Eastern based on his current travel plan.
He will be welcomed home by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. John P. Holdren, senior presidential adviser for science and technology, NASA chief Bolden and Mark Kelly, his twin brother and fellow NASA astronaut.
Kelly will discuss his space mission as well as address questions from members of the press on Friday afternoon.
Kelly's Career Before NASA
Kelly began his long career in the United States Armed Forces when he received a commission after graduating from the State University of New York Maritime College in 1987.
After serving as a Naval Aviator at the Naval Air Station Chase Field in Texas, he was later stationed at the Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia where he learned how to pilot an F-14 fighter jet.
During his time in the U.S. Navy, he was able to record more than 8,000 flight-hours piloting 40 different aircraft and to take part in the first use of a new digital control system to fly an F-14.
Experience In Spaceflight
In 1996, NASA chose astronaut Kelly to participate in its space program and assigned him to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston in order to receive training.
After participating in three spaceflights and recording more than 180 days in space, he served as a pilot on the STS-103 servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1999 and as the Mission Commander on the STS-118 mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour to the ISS in 2007.
Kelly was also a part of several missions to the orbital facility including ISS Expedition 5, ISS Expedition 25 and ISS Expedition 26.
The Year-Long Space Mission
In 2012, Kelly was selected by the American space agency to be its representative for the year-long mission to the ISS. He was joined by Kornienko who represented the Russian Federal Space Agency.
The program was developed by NASA in cooperation with Roscosmos and other international partners. Its goal was to help advance research on the impact of spaceflight on human health.
Kelly and Kornienko performed several experiments while onboard the ISS to find out how the human body is able to react and adapt to the environment in space. The findings from these studies will be used to develop new measures that will lessen the various risks often associated with spaceflight.
Kelly's identical twin brother, Mark, will also be assessed to serve as the ground control subject for NASA's study on the genetic impact of spaceflight.
NASA hopes it will be able to use data from Kelly and Kornienko's year-long stay on the ISS to make necessary preparations for the space agency's planned manned mission to Mars.