U. S., Russian Astronauts Selected for 1-year Space Station Mission
NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will prepare for a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station, a move intended to help prepare human explorers for the physical and mental rigors of future deep space missions.
The launching of the Russian Soyuz rocket carrying the two men to the station is scheduled for the spring of 2015.
Kelly, a 48-year-old U. S. Navy captain, and Kornienko, a 52-year-old cosmonaut test engineer employed by RSC Energia, will participate in science and engineering investigations meant to pave the way for future human expeditions to the moon, a near Earth asteroid and Mars, the two space agencies announced on Monday.
“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 Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator of human exploration and operations.”
Training will begin early next year, NASA and Roscosmos announced jointly on Monday.
Officials plan to elaborate on training and mission plans in early December. But the typical assignment has spanned four to six months over a dozen years of continuous International Space Station staffing.
The current world’s record for long duration spaceflight is held by cosmonaut Valery Polyakov, who spent 438 days in orbit aboard the former Russian Mir space station in 1994-95.
Kelly commanded the six person International Space Station during a 160 day mission in 2010-11. Kornienko spend 176 days aboard the orbiting science lab as a flight engineer in 2010.
Kelly will break new ground for theU. S.space program.
The American space endurance record of 215 days was established by Michael Lopez-Alegria, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, while he was a NASA astronaut assigned to the space station in 2006-07.
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams holds the world’s space endurance record for women, 195 days, set during a 2007 tour of duty on the station.
The challenges of long missions include losses in muscle and bone strength, blurred vision and isolation.