CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A former space shuttle commander whose twin brother is married to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will attempt the longest spaceflight ever by an American.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend an entire year aboard the International Space Station beginning in 2015.
Both countries’ space agencies announced the names of the two space veterans on Monday. The extended mission was approved almost two months ago to provide a medical foundation for future missions around the moon, as well as far-flung trips to asteroids and Mars.
Both men already have lived aboard the space station for six months. NASA wanted experienced space station astronauts to streamline the amount of training necessary for a one-year stint. They will begin training next year.
“Their skills and previous experience aboard the space station align with the mission’s requirements,” Bill Gerstenmaier, head of human exploration for NASA, said in a statement. “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.”
Kelly’s identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, retired from the astronaut corps last year.
Astronauts normally spend about four to six months aboard the space station. The longest an American lived there was seven months.
Kelly and Kornienko will launch aboard a Russian rocket from Kazakhstan. Kelly is a 48-year-old Navy captain with two daughters. Kornienko, 52, a rocket engineer, is married with a daughter.