Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko have spent 340 days aboard the International Space Station, doing research for a Mission to Mars. According to the flight schedule, they will undock from the International Space Station tonight at about 8 p.m. ET. After maneuvering away from the space station, they will be in position to begin their de-orbit burn about two hours and 30 minutes later.
NASA put together a fact sheet breaking down some of the numbers with the mission:
- They’ll have traveled 143,846,525 miles (Mars is about 140 million miles away)
- They’ll have orbited Earth 5,440 times (ISS orbits Earth once every 90 minutes.)
- They’ll have seen 10,944 sunrises and sunsets (That’s 10,260 more than we saw)
- They were resupplied nine times by visiting ships (Six from Russia, one from Japan, and one even from Space X)
Part of the research is what happens to the human body after it’s spent a year in space. Testing on Kelly began a year before he left Earth and will continue for a year or longer after he returns again today. NASA will be looking at how life in zero gravity has affected his sight, motor skills, and metabolism, as well as tracking the psychological effects of 340 days in space. He’ll be tested on basic tasks like walking to gauge his muscle function.
Kelly handed over command of the space station yesterday to Tim Kopra. He tweeted his last sunrise six hours ago from aboard the ISS and just added this photo of himself in the hatch:
Kelly’s identical twin brother and former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly will be in Houston on Wednesday to welcome Kelly home. You can livestream NASA TV’s coverage here.