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

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth on Wednesday after an unprecedented year in space for NASA, landing in barren Kazakhstan with a Russian cosmonaut who shared his whole space station journey.

See Full Article

Their Soyuz capsule parachuted onto the central Asian steppes and ended a science-rich mission at the International Space Station that began last March and was deemed a steppingstone to Mars.

It was a triumphant homecoming for Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko after 340 days in space. They checked out of the space station 3 1/2 hours earlier. As their Soyuz undocked, calls of "Godspeed" filled the Twitterverse.

The pair travelled 144 million miles through space, circled the world 5,440 times and experienced 10,880 orbital sunrises and sunsets during the longest single spaceflight by an American.

Kelly posted one last batch of sunrise photos Tuesday 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, was the much fresher and decade younger cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, whose space station stint lasted the typical six months.

They were met by freezing temperatures, just like when they launched from Kazakhstan on March 27th last year.

The two yearlong spacemen faced 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 Houston.

"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

  • New species of prehistoric palm discovered in Canada

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A researcher identified a new species of small palm that once grew in Canada after examining a fossil that had been part of an Alberta museum collection for decades. Palms are typically associated with warm, tropical climates. Source
  • Trump administration's energy policy aims to revive America's coal industry

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Less than an hour after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, the new administration outlined on the White House website its energy policy, which aims to focus on gas and oil, and reviving the coal industry. Source
  • Less than hour after inauguration, Trump publishes energy policy to revive coal industry

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Less than an hour after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, the new administration outlined on the White House website its energy policy, which aims to focus on gas and oil, and reviving the coal industry. Source
  • Science 'Trumped' by belief: Bob McDonald

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Donald Trump has stated clearly that he believes climate change is a hoax and that vaccines cause autism, two topics that have been clearly proven by science to be untrue. Now, he has a team of players that are carrying these beliefs to other levels of government. Source
  • Trump makes cyberwarfare an official priority for new White House

    Tech & Science CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump will make cyberwarfare a "priority" in the fight against ISIS and other terrorist organizations, the new administration revealed on Friday. The White House website was updated shortly after President Trump's inauguration — offering little insight into the government's plans, but the clearest official indication yet that the government is actively engaged in digital attacks. Source
  • Samsung probe finds faulty batteries triggered fire: report

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A Samsung probe into the exploding batteries that forced the electronics giant to scrap its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones has found irregularly sized batteries caused overheating, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. The South Korean conglomerate was forced to discontinue its flagship Note 7 after a chaotic recall that saw replacement phones also catching fire, with the debacle costing the company billions in lost profit and reputational damage. Source
  • Scientists protest Trump inauguration with #USofScience on Twitter

    Tech & Science CBC News
    As Donald Trump prepared to become the 45th president of the United States, scientists from around the country marked the day by taking to Twitter. Stand up for science! We'll be flooding the social media airwaves with research and discovery during the inauguration, using #USofScience. Source
  • One in five of us secretly snoops on our friends' Facebook accounts

    Tech & Science CTV News
    If you think your Facebook account has been hacked then there may be a chance that it was your friend that did it, according to the results of a new study by the University of British Columbia, Canada. Source
  • Beware friends, family, secretly snooping on your Facebook account

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Digital spies are often thought of as government spooks, or shadowy online groups pilfering data from afar in headline-grabbing attacks. But for many of us, the greatest threat can come from those we know and love. Source
  • Crew enters Hawaii dome for 8-month study imitating life on Mars

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Six carefully selected scientists have entered a man-made dome on a remote Hawaii volcano as part of a human-behaviour study that could help NASA as it draws up plans for sending astronauts on long missions to Mars. Source