GV| Q&A with SCOTT KELLY
[ P E O P L E ] BY DAN DUNAIEF Man With a Mission
WEST ORANGE NATIVE SCOTT KELLY will spend the next two years traveling the
world in preparation for a mission more than 200 miles above it. The NASA astronaut, a retired Navy captain, will visit Russia, Germany, Japan and Canada to learn
about computer and robotic systems that are part of the International Space Station.
His year-long space mission is expected to begin in 2015. When he returns, Kelly, 49,
will hold the record for the longest space flight by an American. Doctors will monitor
Kelly, who in 2010 and 2011 spent 159 days aboard the ISS, to understand how prolonged periods in space affect bones, muscles and the immune system. The scientists
will be able to compare Kelly’s body statistics with data on his twin, Mark Kelly, a
retired astronaut who is married to former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Gif-fords. Scott Kelly spoke with New Jersey Monthly about his mission.
What are you learning on your travels?
The space station has complicated
systems: electrical power, thermal
control, environmental control. It takes
our water and we drink it and then our
urine is turned back into water to drink
again. All the systems—from the U.S., Japan, Europe—work together. We have to
know how to repair them and respond
What else do you have to study? We
have EVA [extra vehicular activity]
training. Space walks might be planned
or not planned. We have to know how to
go outside and fix something or upgrade
the space station. The space suit is its
own spacecraft. The robotic arm is
complicated. We have to capture a free-flying spacecraft, berth it in the space
system and understand the systems on
that visiting spacecraft.
What is the hardest part of the training? The hardest part is space-walk
training in the pool. We’re in a pressurized suit that weighs several hundred
pounds. Working in gloves for six hours,
manipulating tools, tethers and pieces of
hardware, is tough on the hands. When
I get out of there, my hands are spent.
Do you ever feel like a guinea pig? I
wouldn’t use the term guinea pig. We’re
medical test subjects, but we play a more
active role in the science and collecting
the data and even making subjective assessments and offering opinions.
What appeals to you about the mis-
How tough is it to be away from your
sion? I wanted to fly again and to be the
commander of the ISS. Being more than
twice as long [as my previous trip] is an
extra challenge. Being in space for a year
is hard. That’s what I find appealing.
two daughters? [Kelly’s girls are 19
and 10, and live with their mother,
from whom he is divorced.] It’s no different than what people do on military
deployments. It’d be different if they
lived with me all the time.
How did you readjust to gravity
after your last time aboard
the ISS? I was really sore for
a month, and tired. You use
different muscles in your
neck to hold your head up.
In space, your head has
been floating on your neck
and you don’t notice it.
What do you like most
about the view from
space? Deserts are
beautiful: Africa, Australia, the Himalayas. The
most beautiful place on Earth
from space is the Bahamas. The color of
the water and the size of the area that it
covers—it’s like no other place.
Are there tough days in space? Certainly, January 8th will be difficult.
I’ll think about that [day] when I
was in space and my sister-in-law
How did you hear the news?
[Some news organizations] were
reporting that she had passed
Have you read The Right Stuff? I read
it when I was around 18. I thought to
myself, Landing a plane on an aircraft
carrier at night? I could do that. [Kelly
made more than 250 carrier landings.]
Is it difficult not to shower for a year?
People that have hair miss the shower
more than I do. ■