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The One-Year Mission

The One-Year Mission

First off, what is the One-Year Crew? Obviously, they’re doing something for a year, but what, and why?

Two crew members on the International Space Station have just met the halfway point of their year in space. NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are living in space for 342 days and will help us better understand the effects of microgravity on the human body.

Why 342 days and not 365? Thought you might ask. Due to crew rotation schedules, which involve training timelines and dictate when launches and landings occur, the mission was confined to 342 days. Plenty of time to conduct great research though!

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The studies performed throughout their stay will yield beneficial knowledge on the medical, psychological and biomedical challenges faced by astronauts during long-duration spaceflight.

The weightlessness of the space environment has various effects on the human body, including: Fluid shifts that cause changes in vision, rapid bone loss, disturbances to sensorimotor ability, weakened muscles and more.

The goal of the One-Year Mission is to understand and minimize these effects on humans while in space.

The Twins Study

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A unique investigation that is being conducted during this year in space is the Twins Study. NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly’s twin brother Mark Kelly will spend the year on Earth while Scott is in space. Since their genetic makeup is as close to identical as we can get, this allows a unique research perspective. We can now compare all of the results from Scott Kelly in space to his brother Mark on Earth.

But why are we studying all of this? If we want to move forward with our journey to Mars and travel into deep space, astronauts will need to live in microgravity for long periods of time. In order to mitigate the effects of long duration spaceflight on the human body, we need to understand the causes. The One-Year mission hopes to find these answers.

Halfway Point

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Today, September 15 marks the halfway point of their year in space, and they now enter the final stretch of their mission. 

Here are a few fun tidbits on human spaceflight to put things in perspective:

1) Scott Kelly has logged 180 days in space on his three previous flights, two of which were Space Shuttle missions. 

2) The American astronaut with the most cumulative time in space is Mkie Fincke, with 382 days in space on three flights. Kelly will surpass this record for most cumulative time in space by a U.S. astronaut on October 16.

3) Kelly will pass Mike Lopez-Alegria’s mark for most time on a single spaceflight (215 days) on October 29.

4) By the end of this one-year mission, Kelly will have traveled for 342 days, made 5,472 orbits and traveled 141.7 million miles in a single mission. 

Have you seen the amazing images that Astronaut Scott Kelly has shared during the first half of his year in space? Check out this collection, and also follow him on social media to see what he posts for the duration of his #YearInSpace: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. 

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