Veteran astronaut Capt. Scott Kelly will set the record for the longest single space mission for an American, heading off to space with Roscosmos cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko for a year aboard the International Space Station in 2015.
If you recognize his name, that’s because his brother is former space shuttle Cmdr. Mark Kelly, who’s married to former Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in 2011 and quit public office this year.
While in space, the two astronauts aren’t just hanging out for a year, playing Space Invaders or something. They’re helping scientists explore the effects of living in space, and will provide information regarding health and crew performance – all with an eye toward planning for long missions like to an asteroid or Mars.
Only four other people have spent a year or more in space, and all of those missions were above the Russian Mir space station. Cosmonaut Valery Polyakov, who spent 438 days in space between January 1994 and March 1995, holds the record.
Kelly and Kornienko will take off for space in spring of 2015 from Kazakhstan aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. This isn’t Kelly’s first trip up though. He’s already spent more than 180 days in space. Kelly was a pilot on a 1999 space shuttle mission and in 2007, he was a commander on STS-118. Kelly was a flight engineer in 2010 on International Space Station Expedition 25 and commander of Expedition 26 in 2011.