Retired astronaut Scott Kelly recalls his 340 days aboard the International Space Station.
By Nicole Bautista
A little over six months ago, recently retired astronaut Scott Kelly made a 143 million-mile trip back to Earth from an out-of-this-world adventure, spending more time in space than any other American astronaut — with a total of 520 days.
Kelly spoke to a full house at Trinity University’s Laurie Auditorium Sept. 15. He shared what he learned including lessons on leadership, teamwork, personal stories and the path that secured his place in history.
He spent 340 consecutive days aboard the International Space Station, serving science and space travel to better understand how the human body adapts to lengthy periods in space, in hopes of having a human mission to Mars someday.
A few factors made Kelly especially qualified for this mission.
Aside from his radiation exposure not hitting the lifetime limit for NASA astronauts and being a veteran of three previous spaceflights, Kelly has an almost genetically identical twin brother who is also an astronaut.
Being an identical twin made Kelly especially qualified for this mission by being able to measure any genetic changes from spending long periods of time in space.
The retired astronaut said he has completed the hardest thing that he could personally do.
“We have a long way to go — there is no end point; I think we are explorers by nature, I think our society gets a lot from doing the hardest thing there is,” Kelly said.
Kelly said his new challenge is sharing the experience with other people, including an upcoming memoir, “Endurance: My Year in Space” and a recently confirmed movie about his life that he will help produce.
While there are many movies based in space, this one will be more realistic, he said.
“It is an opportunity to showcase what we have done on the space station, in a positive way,” Kelly said. “Letting the American public and even those internationally know what the facility is for and what we have been doing up there all these years.”
Kelly recalls his captivating and eye-opening first views from space.
“I see something that I could not comprehend or make sense of — it was the sunrise,” Kelly said. “The sun came up and I saw the brilliant blue of planet Earth. It was like the most brilliant painting; I knew right then and there that was the most beautiful thing I was ever going to see in my life.”
Kelly spoke of his new perspectives and appreciation.
“Looking at the Earth from space for such a long period of time you can just see areas of the planet that are not being taken care of very well,” Kelly said.
He described the atmosphere as a thin film over the surface of our planet that “looks very fragile — like something that we need to protect because it protects us.”
Kelly gave advice for preserving the planet.
“If you’re not always trying to make it better, it’s going to get worse. We need to try to keep making it better, even if we want things to be the same. Never get comfortable with the status quo.”