After setting the record for longest American astronaut in space, NASA’s Scott Kelly has landed safely in Kazakhstan. His Soyuz capsule, which he shared with cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov, touched down at 11.45PM EST yesterday.
The landing, which was described as “textbook” was greeted by search and rescue teams. Kelly was seen triumphally punching the air upon his emergence from the capsule, and soon after took to talking on the phone.
Both Kelly and Kornienko have spent 340 days on the International Space Station (ISS) as part of an experiment on the long-term effects of being in space.
Both will now be subject to extensive testing by NASA and Roscosmos of Russia to see how their bodies have held up after such a long time in microgravity.
During their mission, the men performed various exercises, including using ladders.
Kelly has an identical twin brother, Mark, who has also been an astronaut.
NASA anticipate comparing the two for indicators of health. Findings may help in the pursuit of longer missions beyond our planet, including, perhaps, to Mars.
Last week, in his final news conference from space, Kelly described the area as a “harsh environment”, where you never feel totally normal.
Kelly became famous for having a very “social” year in space. A regular user of Twitter and other social platforms, Kelly posted some spectacular photos of our planet, also making humorous comments on big events such as Super Bowl 50. Just before his departure, yesterday, Kelly tweeted for the last time: “My last sunrise…then I gotta go!”
Kelly, 52, has two daughters and a girlfriend – who also works for NASA. The flight from the ISS was reported to have taken 3 hours in total. After creeping away from the space station at a speed of some four inches a second, once clear the capsule ignited the rocket bursts that set it on a trajectory for home.
American Tim Kopra of NASA, now assumes control of the ISS mission.