Next week, American astronaut Scott Kelly will head back home after spending 11 months in zero gravity. Kelly has become the only NASA astronaut to spend 334 consecutive days in space on a single mission. But the 52-year-old astronaut says he could stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for one more year.
Kelly is scheduled to come back to earth on March 1 aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, who was also part of year-long mission aboard the space station.
While sharing his experience on the habitable artificial satellite in low earth orbit, Kelly said the year-long mission was challenging in a number of ways. It is always difficult to stay away from your loved ones at a place where you cannot go outside, he added. But Kelly also said that he is physically and psychologically fit and could spend more time on the space station if NASA had so desired.
According to Kelly, his health allows him to break the record of cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov for most consecutive days spent in space, i.e. 437. “I could go another 100 days. I could go another year if I had to. It would just depend on what I was doing and if it made sense — although I do look forward to getting home here next week”, he said during a news conference on February 25.
Kelly and his brother Mark, who has been part of one-year mission from earth, will be examined after the astronaut returns to earth. Scientists will check how human body reacts after spending a long time in micro-gravity. They believe that the test results may help space agencies in planning deep-space missions, such as Mars.