A new United States flight record will be set by astronaut Scott Kelly on Thursday.
The previous record of 215 days set in 2007 by Spanish-American astronaut Michael López-Alegría will be broken just after midnight. He and Russian cosmonaut, Mikhail Kornienko, in the time Scott will spend at the station, will undergo medical investigations as part of the One-Year Mission. The experiment will help understand the effects that space travel can have on astronauts and space explorers.
As part of the NASA Twins Study, Scott and his twin brother, Mark Kelly, provided samples of their saliva, urine, blood and faecal matter to doctors as baseline readings of their biological makeup. The two will be providing more samples as the mission progresses until six months after Scott has returned to Earth.
John Charles, a doctor on NASA’s human research program, says, “We are looking at just about every level in the biological spectrum from the molecular level to the whole body integrated. This is possibly the most complex biomedical investigation ever done on the space station.”
Congratulating Scott on his achievement, President Barack Obama told the astronaut over a telephone call last week that the achievement is “nothing to sneeze at,” as reported by the Washington Post. Kelly, in reply, told the president that “it shouldn’t be a problem getting to the end with enough energy and enthusiasm to complete the job.” He also said, “Records are made to be broken.”
According to San Jose Mercury News, Kelly surpassed the previous record for having spent the most cumulative amount of time in space. His record currently stands at 383 days, which will total 522 days by the time he returns to Earth.
Ten teams have been signed up by NASA to gather data from the twins. Through a comprehensive analysis of the biomedical and molecular data, a portrait of the human biological response to spacewalks will be designed. “We hope to understand in incredible detail what happens as people are launched into space and live there,” Mike Snyder, who leads one of the 10 teams, said. “What does it do to the human body? Humans in space experience dramatic differences, from high force during launch to loss of gravity and radiation exposure. We want to see how all these things affect the human body using modern tools.”
Lopez-Alegria, who spent 215 days, eight hours and 22 minutes, is counting down to the moment Scott will surge past his record. Last week, he tweeted, “The countdown clock is ticking.”