Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko returning to Earth after year in space

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Astronaut Scott Kelly closed the door Tuesday to an unprecedented year in space for NASA, flying back to the planet and loved ones he left behind last March.

See Full Article

Kelly and his roommate for the past 340 days, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, check out of the International Space Station on Tuesday night, U.S. time.

By the time their capsule lands in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, the pair will have travelled 144 million miles through space, circled the world 5,440 times and experienced 10,880 orbital sunrises and sunsets.

Kelly photographed the first five sunrises of his waking day Tuesday, posting the pictures on Twitter, before quipping, "I gotta go!" His final tweet from orbit came several hours later: "The journey isn't over. Follow me as I rediscover .Earth!"

Piloting the Soyuz capsule home for Kelly, 52, and Kornienko, 55, will be the much fresher and decade younger cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, whose space station stint lasted the typical six months.

Kelly was the first one into the docked Soyuz capsule after a round of hugs and handshakes with the three crewmen staying behind. Kornienko reached out and patted the inside of the station before the hatches swung shut.

The two yearlong spacemen will undergo a series of medical tests following touchdown. Before committing to even longer Mars missions, NASA wants to know the limits of the human body for a year, minus gravity.

As he relinquished command of the space station Monday, Kelly noted that he and Kornienko "have been up here for a really, really long time" and have been jokingly telling one another, "We did it!" and "We made it!"

"A year now seems longer than I thought it would be," Kelly confided a couple weeks ago.

Not quite a year -- 340 days to be precise, based on the Russian launch and landing schedule. But still record-smashing for NASA.

Kelly's closest U.S. contender trails him by 125 days. Russia continues to rule, however, when it comes to long-duration spaceflight. The world record of 438 days was set by a Russian doctor during the mid-1990s.

"A really smart person said to me one time, 'Teamwork makes the dreamwork in spaceflight,' and spaceflight is the biggest team sport there is," Kelly said Monday. He acknowledged each of the 13 U.S., Russian, European and Japanese space fliers with whom he and Kornienko lived during the past year. "It's incredibly important that we all work together to make what is seemingly impossible, possible."

For NASA, that mission possible is Mars.

Scientists are hoping for more one-year subjects as NASA gears up for human expeditions to Mars in the 2030s. Radiation will be a top challenge, along with the body and mind's durability on what will be a 2 1/2-year journey round trip.

The choice of the pioneering Kelly turned out to be a bonanza. His identical twin, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, offered himself up as a medical guinea pig so researchers could study the differences between the genetic doubles, one in space and the other on the ground. They provided blood, saliva and urine samples, underwent ultrasounds and bone scans, got flu shots and more, all in the name of science.

Once on the ground, Kelly and Kornienko split. Kelly heads to Houston with two flight surgeons and several other NASA reps, arriving late Wednesday night. That's where he'll be reunited with his two daughters, ages 21 and 12; his girlfriend, a NASA public affairs representative at Johnson Space Center; and his brother. Kornienko returns to his home in Star City, Russia, near Moscow, his wife, daughter and toddler grandson.

Kelly has spent more time in space, altogether, than any other American: 520 days over the course of four missions. Realizing this is likely his last journey, it was "a little bittersweet" saying goodbye to his orbiting home. He'll have plenty of pictures, at least, for the scrapbook -- he posted 1,000 dramatic, colour-drenched pictures of Earth on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

"What a ride he took us on!" fellow astronaut Reid Wiseman said in a tweet from Earth.

"Those of us who dream of sending astronauts to deep space thank Scott Kelly for his sacrifice," said Jim Green, director of planetary science for NASA, "and are thrilled to welcome him home."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • How, when and where to watch Monday's solar eclipse in Canada

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Millions of Canadians will be treated to a rare celestial event on Monday, when the full moon lines up between the sun and Earth. Here’s everything you need to know about where, when and how to safely view the solar eclipse in Canada. Source
  • Right whale found dead off Cape Cod: researchers

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BOSTON -- Researchers at the New England Aquarium in Boston say another North Atlantic right whale has died. The aquarium's right whale research team tweeted that the dead whale was a female named "Couplet. Source
  • Ontario university students touring nuclear disaster site in Japan

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A handful of Ontario university students are touring parts of Japan to better understand the devastating effects of the country's 2011 nuclear disaster and the problems that persist. Five graduate students from McMaster University's radiation sciences program landed in Japan on Wednesday for a 10-day tour of the Fukushima region where they'll spend time in a restricted zone, stay with families devastated by the disaster and tour the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the site of the nuclear…
  • Solar eclipse safety: Wear solar specs or make a viewer to watch Monday's eclipse

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Solar glasses are a must for safe viewing of Monday's total solar eclipse, the first to span coast to U.S. coast in 99 years. And parents beware: Eye doctors urge strict adult supervision for eclipse watchers under 16 years old. Source
  • Solar safety: Wear solar specs or make a viewer for Monday's eclipse

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Solar glasses are a must for safe viewing of Monday's total solar eclipse, the first to span coast to coast in 99 years.Scroll down or click here to vote in our poll of the day And parents beware: Eye doctors urge strict adult supervision for eclipse watchers under 16 years old. Source
  • Wreckage of Second World War-era USS Indianapolis found

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Civilian researchers say they have located the wreck of the USS Indianapolis, the Second World War heavy cruiser that played a critical role in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima before being struck by Japanese torpedoes. Source
  • Space is the final legal frontier for the Canadian military, documents show

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The Canadian military is looking for ways to prevent its satellites from being shot down or disabled, but is faced with an international legal vacuum that makes it tough to know how far the country can go to protect its property, government documents show. Source
  • Mexico's prickly pear cactus: energy source of the future?

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The prickly pear cactus is such a powerful symbol in Mexico that they put it smack in the middle of the national flag. It was considered sacred by the ancient Aztecs, and modern-day Mexicans eat it, drink it, and even use it in medicines and shampoos. Source
  • Eating the sun: How solar eclipses changed from terrible omen to tourist draw

    Tech & Science CBC News
    As we prepare for the moon to swallow the sun, cast your mind back 4,153 years ago, give or take. Without warning, people in central China saw their familiar sun disappear and become a ring of fire, in what today is called an annular eclipse. Source
  • Japan launches satellite for better GPS system

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Japan on Saturday launched the third satellite in its effort to build a homegrown geolocation system aimed at improving the accuracy of car navigation systems and smartphone maps to mere centimetres. An H-IIA rocket blasted off at about 2:30 pm (0530 GMT) from the Tanegashima space centre in southern Japan, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Source