American astronaut returns to earth after one-year mission in space

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After setting the record for the most consecutive days spent in space by an American, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is home.

Kelly landed in Kazakhstan from the International Space Station on Tuesday and made it to Ellington Field in Houston, Texas shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning. Kelly returned to Earth along with his crewmates, Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov.

The One-Year mission is a collaborative project between Russia and the United States. Now that the three astronauts have returned to earth, data analysis will continue and will be shared between the two countries. The mission is meant to embody the cost and risk-reduction benefits that international collaboration can have on space exploration and research, according to the NASA website.

The One-Year mission was designed to test seven categories of research that tested the medical, physical and physiological changes to the human body in space over long periods of time. Serving as a stepping stone for missions NASA hopes to embark on in the future, data collection from the mission will help NASA plan a trip to Mars and will be shared between Russia and the United States as data analysis continues on Earth.

Scott Kelly’s identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, who is a retired U.S. astronaut, remained on earth for the duration of the mission as part of the study. Scientists will use Mark and Scott to analyze the physical effects, such as radiation and visual impairment, and the mental effects, such as the impact of isolation, that long-term space travel has on the human body. The “One-Year mission” served as a preparation for a trip to Mars, which NASA hopes will occur by the 2030s.

Crew members on the One-Year mission spent a full year in the International Space Station, twice as long as a typical U.S. mission. During their time in space, Scott Kelly celebrated two birthdays.

“When I left here in February I was 50 and now I’m 52,” Scott Kelly, a veteran of three previous missions, told the crowd that greeted him at Ellington Field in Houston. “It’s great to be back in Texas, on U.S. soil. It’s an unbelievable feeling to be back here on Planet Earth, back in our great country and back with all my family and my friends.”

More about Scott and Mark Kelly and the One-Year mission, including videos and tweets from Scott’s year in space, can be found here.