The average stay for any astronaut in space is about six months. After this time, space missions are usually over as astronauts return back home to Earth. NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly has started training to spend a year-long journey aboard the International Space Station orbiting the Earth in 2015. If successful, Kelly will set the record for the longest American spaceflight and the longest spaceflight in history.
According to NASA, Kelly is currently training with Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, as they will both be embarking on this extended foray into space. Their training is a two-year program that will test their physical, mental, and social endurance in a strict space regimen.
‘The one-year increment will expand the bounds of how we live and work in space and will increase our knowledge regarding the effects of microgravity on humans as we prepare for future missions beyond low-Earth orbit,’ said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA.
The purpose of the year-long expedition is to see how the human body reacts to long periods of time in the harsh elements of space. The longer time spent on the International Space Station will determine the countermeasures to reduce risk for any future missions into space, to the Moon, or even to Mars. Yes, NASA has Mars as an ultimate destination for any future manned missions.
For some perspective, Russian Cosmonaut Valery Polyakov, who spent 438 days on the Russian space station Mir from 1994 to 1995 , currently holds the record for the longest spaceflight in history. NASA Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who spent 215 days from 2006 to 2007 on the International Space Station, holds the record for the longest American spaceflight. Again, if successful, Kelly will beat the American record by 150 days, spanning into 2016.
I guess Kelly and Kornienko will have to wait until Star Wars: Episode VII is on Blu-ray/DVD before they’ll get a chance to watch it.