International Space Station's 'one year crew' returns to Earth

March 2, 2016 by Kirill Kudryavtsev
US astronaut Scott Kelly broke the record for the longest single stay in space by a US astronaut after 340 days on the Internati
US astronaut Scott Kelly broke the record for the longest single stay in space by a US astronaut after 340 days on the International Space Station

US astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth Wednesday after spending almost a year in space in a ground-breaking experiment foreshadowing a potential manned mission to Mars.

The 340-day mission saw Kelly break the record for the longest single stay in by a US astronaut, while Kornienko is now fifth on the list for lengthiest mission by a Russian cosmonaut.

"We have landing," Russian Mission Control confirmed after the trio touched down southeast of the settlement of Dzhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan at around 0430 GMT.

After returning from his lengthy stint in space Kelly was clearly in high spirits as he was lowered to the ground by burly Russian rescue workers at the landing site.

"The air out here feels great. I've no idea why you guys are so bundled up," NASA TV reported him as saying as he sat upright in a chair on the steppe in temperatures just below zero.

Kelly and Kornienko returned with Russia's Sergei Volkov, who was stationed at the ISS for over five months and was met upon landing by his father, retired cosmonaut Aleksandr Volkov.

The "one-year crew" mission—which began on March 27 last year—was the longest by any astronauts aboard the ISS and seen as a vital chance to measure the effects of a prolonged period in space on the human body.

Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko is now fifth on the list for lengthiest mission by a Russian cosmonaut after spending 340 da
Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko is now fifth on the list for lengthiest mission by a Russian cosmonaut after spending 340 days on the International Space Station

They have been subjected to a battery of tests and other experiments in preparation for a future manned mission to Mars and beyond.

Weightlessness reduces muscle mass and bone density and is believed to diminish eyesight by increasing cerebrospinal fluid around the optic nerve.

Kelly, 52, was also part of an experiment comparing his development and changes in space with his identical twin brother—Mark—back on Earth.

A search and rescue team secures the Soyuz TMA-18M space capsule carrying International Space Station crew US astronaut Scott Ke
A search and rescue team secures the Soyuz TMA-18M space capsule carrying International Space Station crew US astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergei Volkov

Gorilla in space

In his year aboard the space station Kelly has been an avid Internet poster, capturing stunning views on his Instagram page and tweeting regularly to nearly a million followers while travelling some 143 million miles (230 million kilometres).

In one particularly eye-catching stunt the bald-headed astronaut posted a short video of himself dressed up in a gorilla suit and floating through the ISS in pursuit of a colleague.

"Needed a little humour to lighten up a year in space," he wrote on Twitter on February 23, when he posted the video.

One image Kelly tweeted captured the economic divide between North and South Korea as visible from space, with the South aglow with electric lights and the North cast in a blanket of darkness.

Another impressive shot was one of the Milky Way which Kelly described as "old, dusty, gassy and warped. But beautiful."

"Spaceflight is the biggest team sport there is, and it's incredibly important that we all work together to make what is seemingly impossible possible," Kelly said when handing over command of the ISS to fellow NASA astronaut Tim Kopra on Monday.

Kelly, Kornienko and Volkov leave behind Kopra, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and the European Space Agency's British astronaut Tim Peake.

NASA's Jeff Williams and Roscosmos' Oleg Skriprochka and Alexey Ovchinin, will join them following a launch from Baikonur later this month.

Explore further: Astronaut Scott Kelly's yearlong mission almost over

Related Stories

US space-endurance champ says he could do another year

February 25, 2016

America's space-endurance champ, Scott Kelly, returns to Earth next week after nearly a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station. High on his to-do list when he gets back: jumping into his pool and dining at a ...

First Dane in space arrives at ISS

September 4, 2015

The first Dane in space arrived on Friday at the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a three-man team after an unusually long voyage from Earth, the Russian space agency said.

Image: Good morning from the International Space Station

September 15, 2015

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) shared this photograph on social media, taken from the International Space Station on Sept. 10, 2015. Kelly wrote, "#GoodMorning Texas! Great view of you, the #moon, and #Venus ...

Recommended for you

Hubble catches a transformation in the Virgo constellation

December 9, 2016

The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is especially rich in galaxies, due in part to the presence of a massive and gravitationally-bound collection of over 1300 galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. One particular member of ...

Khatyrka meteorite found to have third quasicrystal

December 9, 2016

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers from the U.S. and Italy has found evidence of a naturally formed quasicrystal in a sample obtained from the Khatyrka meteorite. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, ...

Scientists sweep stodgy stature from Saturn's C ring

December 9, 2016

As a cosmic dust magnet, Saturn's C ring gives away its youth. Once thought formed in an older, primordial era, the ring may be but a mere babe – less than 100 million years old, according to Cornell-led astronomers in ...

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

bschott
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2016
It takes a lot of balls to subject one's self to what these guys do in the name of scientific progress.

Hats off to all of them.
antigoracle
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2016
It takes a lot of balls to subject one's self to what these guys do in the name of scientific progress.

Hats off to all of them.

It does take a special human to accomplish what these guys did, but when it comes to balls nothing can compare to Armstrong and what he had to do to get the Lunar lander on the moon.
JCSamuelson
not rated yet Mar 02, 2016
Definitely a significant accomplishment! I really enjoyed his comm with those of us planet-side over the course of the year too. Looking forward to reading about the impact on the human body and the resulting implications for a Mars mission.
EyeNStein
not rated yet Mar 02, 2016
"Spaceflight is the biggest team sport there is, and it's incredibly important that we all work together to make what is seemingly impossible possible,"

Here, here ! Lets have more intellectual team sports we can vicariously participate in: More recognition for intellectual athletes. Don't let the world forget how many years preparation goes into these achievements. Just like the Olympics really.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.