The Longest American Spaceflight
The Feat: Scott Kelly may have broken the record for the single longest spaceflight ever attempted by an American, on Oct 29, but the NASA astronaut is still floating through space far beyond the record-breaking 216 days. In fact, he isn’t expected to touch down on planet earth until March 2, 2016, when he completes his one-year mission. Kelly and a Russian counterpart are participating in a study to provide new insights into how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, radiation, isolation, and other stresses of long-duration spaceflight. While his 342 days in space will shatter all U.S. records, it should be noted that Soviet cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov holds the ultimate record of 437 days spent in space, between 1994 and 1995.
Previous Record: Spanish-American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria set the previous American record of 215 days, in 2007.
The Near-Miss Moment: Scott’s identical twin Mark Kelly had to retire from NASA to look after his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, the former Democratic congresswoman who was shot in the head in 2011. But the brothers will work together as part of the NASA Twins Study, looking at how the brain and body change in space versus on the ground.
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