After 11 months in space, astronaut Scott Kelly returns to Earth

Mar 1, 2016 2:54 PM by NBC News

NASA is planning a very big homecoming celebration in Houston, as American astronaut Scott Kelly, prepares to return to earth late tonight.

He has spent almost a full year on the international space station, setting a record for an American astronaut.

340 days!

5,400 earth orbits.

Nearly 11,000 sunsets!

For nearly a year, Scott Kelly has floated 250 miles above the earth.

"Probably almost half the time I’ve been here - between sleeping and working on the computer, I’ve spent in a box the size of a phone booth," he said.

Along the way, he's captured and tweeted some breath-taking images of sunrises, massive weather systems, melting ice caps and even a spacesuit selfie!

He’s also been the ideal test subject to evaluate the physical and emotional effects on long-duration space flight.

Because on the ground on Tucson is Scott’s twin brother, Mark, himself a retired astronaut and the husband of former congresswomen Gabby Gifford’s.

As a near genetic duplicate, researchers have been comparing Mark to Scott to evaluate the effects of space, solar and radiation exposure on Scott.

Which is critical if astronauts are ever going to mars.

And twins will be twins.

It was Mark who sent a gorilla suit into space for Scott to terrorize other astronauts.

But the science is serious stuff.

“They had an opportunity that they've never had before,” Scott said. “My brother and i are the only uh individuals, the only siblings that have ever flown in space and the fact that we are twins gave them uh this unique opportunity to do some pretty substantial science."

At his home in Houston, just weeks before his mission began last year, Scott was asked what he would miss most.

"I think what most people miss and what i missed last time are the people that are important in your life," he said. "You know, the relationships you have with people on the ground. There’s certainly a loss of connection with folks on the ground who i care for and love and i want to spend time with."

Still, after nearly 144 million miles, he says he's not climbing the walls...

"I could go another 100 days, i could go another year if I had to," he said.

No need. After 11-months in space, late tonight, Scott Kelly will finally be home.


Most Popular