The past 12 months have been some of the very best of all time when it comes to space exploration. Sure, we didn’t walk on the Moon, but we did have a very close encounter with Pluto, grew crops in space, and started the hiring process for the first manned mission to Mars. And through it all, astronaut Scott Kelly has been orbiting Earth on the International Space Station, providing us with incredible images and setting the American record for the most time in space.
Sadly all good things must come to an end, and in preparation for his departure back to Earth on March 1, Kelly handed over command of the International Space Station to NASA astronaut Tim Kopra just a few hours ago. For anyone like us who’s followed the almost year-long journey of Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko so far, the ceremony below is pretty emotional.
Even if you haven’t heard of the record-breaking Year in Space mission until now, you have to admit that spending 340 days straight on a spacecraft roughly the size of a football field is pretty impressive – not to mention the fact that Kelly drank an estimated 730 Litres of his own sweat and urine during the mission – all so he could help scientists back on Earth figure out what long-term space travel does to the body.
In the ceremony, Kelly thanks Kornienko (‘Misha’ for short) and admits goodbyes are always “bittersweet when you’re leaving this incredible place”. Kornienko will be travelling back to Earth on March 1 along with Kelly and cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, who’s been on the space station with them for the past six months.
March 1-4 NASA TV Schedule, LIVE and taped, for Astronaut Scott Kelly’s Return is HERE