Spaceflight Insider

NASA’s Scott Kelly now holds U.S. record for most time on orbit

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly now has more time on orbit - than any U.S. space flyer to date. Photo Credit: Scott Kelly / NASA posted on SpaceFlight Insider

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly now has more time on orbit than any U.S. space flyer to date. Photo Credit: Scott Kelly / NASA

On the eve of the 15th anniversary of continuous human presence on the International Space Station on Nov. 2, 2015, the commander of the current Expedition 45 Crew and U.S. astronaut, Scott Kelly, is breaking U.S. spaceflight records. This past Friday, October 16, Kelly marked 383 days living in space, breaking U.S. astronaut Mike Fincke’s previous record of 363 cumulative days on orbit.

NASA image of astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko - the duo who are spending one year on the International Space Station Bill Stafford / NASA photo posted on SpaceFlight Insider

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are conducting a one-year stay on board the International Space Station – an effort which may provide data that future crews can use on journeys beyond Earth orbit. Photo Credit: Bill Stafford / NASA

Kelly will also break another record on October 29 on his 216th consecutive day in space. On that date, he will surpass astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria’s record for the longest single spaceflight by an American. Lopez-Alegria spent 215 days in space as commander of the Expedition 14 crew in 2006.

It is hoped that breaking such spaceflight records will help mission planners to better understand how long-duration spaceflight affects human bodies and minds. As a part of the one-year mission, Kelly, along with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, are participating in studies during their 342 days in space that provide new insights into how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, isolation, radiation, and stress on long-duration missions into the black. Kelly’s twin brother, former astronaut Mark Kelly, will participate in parallel twin studies on Earth to help scientists compare the effects on the body and mind in space with a control subject on Earth.

“A year really is a long time… a long time to never be able to go outside, or feel the Sun on your face, or to see your family through anything besides a computer screen. But a mission to Mars is even longer, and the work we’re doing right now is a huge leap in reaching the goal of sending humans to walk on the Red planet.” Scott Kelly stated on a blog entry posted to his Facebook page. “The research we are doing 250 miles above Earth is the reason we’re on this orbiting laboratory. We have over 400 different experiments going on over the course of the year I am here, many of them where I am the experiment. Scientists are observing the changes in my body over a year to learn how to live in space longer, all so we can venture further into space on a journey to Mars or other destinations.”

Kelly is scheduled to return to Earth on March 3, 2016, by which time he will have compiled 522 total days living in space during four missions. However, Kelly is not the only human breaking records for time in space. Expedition 44 commander Gennady Padalka broke the 10-year-old record for the number of cumulative days in space on June 28, as he reached 804 days in space. When he returned to Earth on Sept. 11, Padalka had spent 879 days living and working on orbit.

Video courtesy of NASA Johnson


College student and long time space enthusiast, Jose has been a constant visitor to Cape Canaveral since he moved to central Florida. He joined the SFI team in the hopes of becoming more involved in the coverage of spaceflight and space exploration.

Reader Comments


Too bad he doesn’t respect the Bill of Rights.

That’s the most ridiculous piece of troll bait I’ve seen in a while. I’m not even going to touch that – its inanity speaks for itself.

Now we’re to the part of the year-long experiment for which everyone’s been waiting. Looking forward to getting some good science out of this that will help support journeys of extended duration beyond LEO. The only thing about this mission that I don’t like is that as far as I know, there are no plans to follow it up with any other such long-duration flights to obtain more data. It needs to be more than just a one-shot stunt.

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