Wrapping up the longest space mission by an American

My how time flies: Astronaut Scott Kelly’s almost year-in-space is scheduled to end on March 1st.

Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will come back to Earth Tuesday (March 1), wrapping up an unprecedented 340-day stay on the orbiting lab. (Crewmembers typically live and work aboard the station for 5 to 6 months at a time.)

The article is wrong when it calls this mission “unprecedented.” The Russians have flown four astronauts in space for more than a year, with one spending 14.5 months in orbit. Though Kelly’s experience will provide valuable data for future long term missions to the planets, it remains disappointing to me that NASA didn’t have the courage to push this beyond the previous Russian record.

What do you do with a giant space station when its lifespan is over?

What do you do with a giant space station when its lifespan is over?

The article notes that no date has been set for deorbit, and that it likely will not happen before 2028. The article also includes information about some of medical and engineering problems of long term weightlessness that have been discovered on ISS, and how engineers have attempted to address them.

Unfortunately, some of these problems, such as the recently discovered vision problems, remain unsolved. It is a shame that while Russia wants to do multi-year missions on the station to study these issues, NASA continues to resist.