Scott Kelly (astronaut)

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Scott Kelly
Scott J. Kelly.jpg
NASA astronaut
Nationality American
Status Retired
Born Scott Joseph Kelly
(1964-02-21) February 21, 1964 (age 54)
Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Captain, USN
Time in space
Selection NASA Astronaut Group 16, 1996
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
18 hours and 20 minutes
Missions STS-103, STS-118, Soyuz TMA-01M (Expedition 25/26), Soyuz TMA-16M/Soyuz TMA-18M (Expedition 43/44/45/46)
Mission insignia
Sts-103-patch.png STS-118 patch new.svg Soyuz-TMA-01M-Mission-Patch.svg ISS Expedition 25 Patch.png ISS Expedition 26 Patch.png Soyuz-TMA-16M-Mission-Patch.png ISS Yearlong mission patch.png ISS Expedition 43 Patch.svg ISS Expedition 44 Patch.svg ISS Expedition 45 Patch.png ISS Expedition 46 Patch.svg
Leslie S. Yandell
(div. 2009)
Amiko Kauderer
(m. 2018)
Children 2
Relatives Mark Kelly (twin brother)

Scott Joseph Kelly (born February 21, 1964) is an engineer, retired American astronaut, and a retired U.S. Navy Captain. A veteran of four space flights, Kelly commanded the International Space Station (ISS) on Expeditions 26, 45, and 46.

Kelly's first spaceflight was as pilot of Space Shuttle Discovery, during STS-103 in December 1999. This was the third servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, and lasted for just under eight days. Kelly's second spaceflight was as mission commander of STS-118, a 12-day Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station in August 2007. Kelly's third spaceflight was as commander of Expedition 26 on the ISS. He arrived 9 October 2010, on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft,[2] during Expedition 25, and served as a flight engineer until it ended.[3] He took over command of the station on 25 November 2010, at the start of Expedition 26 which began officially when the spacecraft Soyuz TMA-19 undocked, carrying the previous commander of the station, Douglas H. Wheelock.[4] Expedition 26 ended on 16 March 2011 with the departure of Soyuz TMA-01M. This was Kelly's first long-duration spaceflight.

In November 2012, Kelly was selected, along with Mikhail Korniyenko, for a year long (11 months) mission so called year-long mission to the International Space Station.[5][6][7] Their year in space commenced 27 March 2015 with the start of Expedition 43, continued through the entirety of Expeditions 44, and 45, both of which Kelly commanded. He passed command to Timothy Kopra[8] on 29 February 2016, when the ISS 11-month mission ended. He returned to Earth aboard Soyuz TMA-18M on 1 March 2016.

In October 2015, he set the record for the total accumulated number of days spent in space by an American astronaut, 520. This record was broken in 2016 by astronaut Jeff Williams and in 2017 by astronaut Peggy Whitson. For the so-called ISS year long mission, Kelly spent 340 consecutive days (11 months, 3 days) in space.[9] Kelly's identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, is a former astronaut. The Kelly brothers are the only siblings to have traveled in space.[5][10] On March 12, 2016, Kelly announced his retirement for April 2016.[11]

Early life and education[edit]

Kelly was born in Orange, New Jersey, to Patricia and Richard Kelly, and raised in the nearby community of West Orange. Kelly is of Irish descent. He attended Mountain High School along with his identical twin brother Mark. While in high school, Kelly worked as an emergency medical technician. He graduated from Mountain High School in 1982.[12]:32–41[8][13]

Kelly received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the State University of New York Maritime College[14] in 1987, and an M.S. degree in Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1996.

Naval career[edit]

Scott Kelly received his commission via the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC). He was designated a Naval Aviator in July 1989 at Naval Air Station Chase Field in Beeville, Texas.

He reported to Fighter Squadron 101 (VF-101) at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, for initial F-14 Tomcat training. Upon completion of this training, he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 143 (VF-143) and made overseas deployments to the North Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and Persian Gulf aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Scott Kelly was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland in January 1993 and completed training in June 1994. After graduation, he worked as a test pilot at the Strike Aircraft Test Squadron, Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division, at Patuxent River, flying the F-14A/B/D, F/A-18A/B/C/D and KC-130F. Kelly was the first pilot to fly an F-14 with an experimental digital flight control system installed and performed subsequent high angle of attack and departure testing.

He has logged more than 8,000 flight-hours in more than 40 different aircraft and spacecraft. Kelly has made more than 250 carrier landings.

After attaining the rank of Captain in the U.S. Navy, Kelly retired from active duty on June 1, 2012 after 25 years of Naval service and continued to serve as an astronaut and civil servant until his second retirement in April 2016.

NASA career[edit]

S. Kelly on EVA at ISS in November 2015

Selected by NASA in April 1996, Kelly reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. On completion of training, he was assigned to technical duties in the Astronaut Office Spacecraft Systems/Operations Branch.

Kelly was assigned to flight status on NASA's Space Shuttle program, officially designated Space Transportation System, or STS. After Kelly's first flight on STS-103 he served as NASA's Director of Operations in Star City, Russia. Kelly was a back-up crew member for ISS Expedition 5. He also served as the Astronaut Office Space Station Branch Chief.

In September 2002, Kelly served as the commander of the NEEMO 4 mission aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory, four miles off shore from Key Largo. Kelly and his crewmates spent five days saturation diving from Aquarius as a space analogue for working and training under extreme environmental conditions. The mission was delayed due to Hurricane Isadore, forcing National Undersea Research Center (NURC) managers to shorten it to an underwater duration of five days. Then, three days into their underwater mission, the crew members were told that Tropical Storm Lili was headed in their direction and to prepare for an early departure from Aquarius. Fortunately, Lili degenerated to the point where it was no longer a threat, so the crew was able to remain the full five days.[15][16] In April 2005, Kelly was a crew member on the NEEMO 8 mission.[17]

Spaceflight experience[edit]


Kelly was the pilot of STS-103 Discovery (December 19–27, 1999), on an eight-day mission during which the crew successfully installed new instruments and upgraded systems on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Enhancing HST scientific capabilities required three space walks. Travelling 3,200,000 mi (5,100,000 km) in space, the STS-103 mission was accomplished in 120 Earth orbits, spanning 191 hours and 11 minutes.[8]


The crew of STS-118, a Space Shuttle mission on which Kelly served as mission commander

Kelly served as mission commander of STS-118 Endeavour (August 8–21, 2007), the 119th Space Shuttle flight, the 22nd flight to the station and the 20th flight for Endeavour. During the mission, Endeavour's crew successfully added a truss segment, a new gyroscope and external spare parts platform to the International Space Station. A new system that enables docked shuttles to draw electrical power from the station to extend visits to the outpost was activated successfully.

During and after the mission, the media focused heavily on a small puncture in the heat shield, created by a piece of insulation foam that came off the external tank of Endeavour during liftoff. Foam impact was the cause of the destruction of Space Shuttle Columbia, but the extent of damage was very small in comparison and in a less critical area.[18]

Four spacewalks (EVAs) were performed by three crew members. Endeavour carried some 5,000 lb (2,300 kg) of equipment and supplies to the station and returned to Earth with some 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) of hardware and no longer needed equipment. Travelling 5,300,000 miles (8,500,000 km) in space, the STS-118 mission was completed in 12 days, 17 hours, 55 minutes and 34 seconds.[8]

Soyuz TMA-01M[edit]

Kelly in Moscow with the prime and backup crews for this mission, 2010

Kelly flew to the ISS aboard Soyuz TMA-01M from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:10 pm EDT on Thursday, October 7, 2010 (5:10 am Friday in Kazakhstan). Aboard the Soyuz rocket with Kelly were Soyuz Commander Aleksandr Kaleri of Russia and Russian Flight Engineer Oleg Skripochka.[19]

TMA-01M is the first of a new generation of the Soyuz spacecraft. Kelly discussed the upgrades in a pre-flight interview: "The improvements are rather significant. The displays that the cosmonauts and myself—although my role in the Soyuz is somewhat minor—use to control the vehicle have been upgraded to make flying it easier. It's less operator-intensive, but the main and most important change is they have a new, what we would refer to as a flight control computer. So the computer that operates the systems on board is new and the software is new.

"Now the software is written in a way to kind of model the previous algorithms that control the vehicle but it is new software and it is new hardware, most of which has been tested on the Progress, Russian resupply vehicles, but the Progress doesn't re-enter the same way as the Soyuz does so when we come home in March it'll be the first time that this new flight control computer and the entry software will be demonstrated in flight."[20]

ISS Expedition 25[edit]

Kelly, Aleksandr Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka arrived at the International Space Station on October 9, 2010. Kelly served as flight engineer during his time on Expedition 25.[2] October 9 marked the beginning of the second part of Expedition 25 bringing the number of people aboard the ISS to six. The rest of the crew included Commander Douglas H. Wheelock, along with flight engineers Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin.

ISS Expedition 26[edit]

Kelly posing for the Expedition 26 crew picture on July 16, 2010

Kelly was the commander of Expedition 26 which began on November 25, 2010, when half of the crew of Expedition 25 returned to Earth on Soyuz TMA-19.[21] On January 8, 2011, with over two months remaining in the mission, Kelly's sister-in-law Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tucson. Kelly returned to Earth at the conclusion of the mission, landing in Kazakhstan on March 16, 2011. He traveled directly to Houston to see his brother and Giffords.[22]

Prior to his mission, Kelly was asked about what it would be like to command the ISS: "Certainly as the commander you're responsible for safety and the health of your people and making sure they have everything they need to do their jobs. I'll certainly be conscious of those things but we're all professionals, we all understand what we need to do, and we're all kind of self-starters and kind of take care of ourselves very well so it shouldn't be much different than when Doug Wheelock, the previous commander, was in charge."[20]

During Kelly's time aboard the International Space Station (including Expeditions 25 and 26), there were several space vehicle visits.[20] These included:

Problems with the launch of Discovery pushed shuttle mission STS-134 beyond the time of Kelly's stay aboard the ISS. STS-134 was commanded by Kelly's brother Mark.

Year-long mission[edit]

Patch for yearlong mission
Kelly with President Barack Obama in January 2015

In November 2012, NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and their international partners selected two veteran spacefarers for a so-called one-year mission (actually 11 months) aboard the International Space Station in 2015. This mission includes collecting scientific data important to future human exploration of our solar system. NASA selected Scott Kelly and Roscosmos chose Mikhail Korniyenko. Kelly and Korniyenko launched aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 27, 2015[7][23] and landed in Kazakhstan on March 1, 2016 (U.S. time).[24] Kelly and Korniyenko already had a connection; Kelly was a backup crew member for the station's Expedition 23/24 crews, where Korniyenko served as a flight engineer. The goal of their year-long (11 month) expedition aboard the orbiting laboratory is to understand better how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space.[25] Data from the 12-month expedition will help inform current assessments of crew performance and health and will determine better and validate countermeasures to reduce the risks associated with future exploration as NASA plans for missions around the moon, an asteroid and ultimately Mars.[26] Part of this research also includes a comparative study on the genetic effects of spaceflight with Scott's twin brother Mark as the ground control subject. According to Christopher Mason, "Seven percent of the genes that changed their expression during spaceflight were still altered after six months back on Earth." [27][28]

On January 8, 2016, Kelly appeared in the thank you note segment of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, with the first ever thank you note from space.[29]

Kelly's 11 months in space included 5,440 orbits around the Earth and he conducted three spacewalks before returning home in March 2016.[10]

On March 12, 2016, Kelly announced his retirement from NASA effective April 1, 2016.[30]

Post NASA[edit]

External video
After Words interview with Kelly on Endurance, December 23, 2017, C-SPAN

Scott Kelly was appointed as United Nations Champion for Space by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), in November 2016. As a champion for space, Kelly will help raise awareness of UNOOSA outreach and activities, and especially the upcoming UNISPACE+50 event in June 2018. The Champion for Space role is based on the United Nations Messengers of Peace model, and Kelly's term will be for an initial period of two years.[31]

Kelly spoke at UNISPACE50+ on June 19, 2018 to celebrate 50 years of space and the Outer Space Treaty. He shared his experience as an astronaut and inspired an audience quoting, 'In order to be successful in life, we need to embrace challenges,'and 'Understand what you can and cannot control in life, and focus on that you can control.'

Kelly's memoir, Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery, discusses his NASA career and reflects upon his famous 340-day mission in space. Published by Alfred A. Knopf in October 2017, the book was co-written with Margaret Lazarus Dean.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Kelly was married to Leslie Kelly (divorced in 2009) and has two daughters, Samantha and Charlotte. He is now married to Amiko Kauderer, a former Public Affairs Officer for NASA and 9-years younger than Kelly.[33] His sister-in-law is Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona.


Kelly is an Associate Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a member of the Association of Space Explorers.[8]


He has received the following awards and decorations:[8]

Naval Aviator Badge.jpg United States Naval Aviator Badge
Ribbon Description Notes
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Superior Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg Distinguished Flying Cross
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal ribbon.svg Navy Achievement Medal
U.S. Navy Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Navy Unit Commendation
NasaDisRib.gif NASA Distinguished Service Medal
USA - NASA Excep Rib.png NASA Exceptional Service Medal
NASA Outstanding Leadership Ribbon.png NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal
Gold star
Gold star
NASA Space Flight Medal Three awards
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal Two awards
Southwest Asia Service Medal ribbon (1991–2016).svg Southwest Asia Service Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.svg Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) ribbon.svg Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) ribbon.svg Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
Medal For Merit in an Space Exploration (Russia 2010) ribbon.svg Medal "For Merit in Space Exploration" Russian Federation


  • 1999 - Korolev Diploma from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale
  • 2008 - Honorary Doctorate of Science degree from the State University of New York
  • 2014 - Time Magazine cover December 29, 2014
  • 2015 - Time "The 100 Most Influential People" for 2015 [34]
  • 2016 - The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) has appointed Scott Kelly as United Nations Champion for Space.[31]



  • Kelly, Scott (2017). Endurance : a year in space, a lifetime of discovery. With Margaret Lazarus Dean. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 


  • Kelly, Scott (August 2017). "Space odyssey". National Geographic. 232 (2): 66–75. [35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Calandrelli E, Escher A (December 16, 2016). "The top 15 events that happened in space in 2016". Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "International Space Station Expedition 25". NASA. October 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  3. ^ "Expedition 25 Returns Home". NASA. November 26, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-03. 
  4. ^ "International Space Station Expedition 26". NASA. October 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  5. ^ a b Sanders, Craig (February 6, 2003). "Twins in Outer Space". Twinstuff. Missouri City, Texas. Archived from the original on March 27, 2015. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  6. ^ "NASA, Roscosmos Assign Veteran Crew to Yearlong Space Station Mission". NASA. November 26, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Kramer, Miriam (March 28, 2015). "One-Year Crew Begins Epic Trip on International Space Station". Retrieved March 28, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f "NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Biographical Data". NASA. February 2016. Retrieved March 18, 2018. 
  9. ^ McCarthy, Craig (October 19, 2015). "N.J. man has now spent more time in space than any other American". New Jersey On-Line LLC. Retrieved March 3, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "Mark Kelly's Official NASA Bio". NASA. July 2011. Retrieved March 3, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Record-breaking astronaut Scott Kelly retiring this April". 
  12. ^ Kelly, Scott; Dean, Margaret (2017). Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 9781524731595. 
  13. ^ "Kelly named among top 100 Irish Americans by Irish America/Irish Central". Gabrielle Giffords. June 2, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2016. 
  14. ^ Becker, Joachim. "Astronaut Biography: Scott Kelly". 
  15. ^ NASA (March 21, 2006). "NEEMO History". NASA. Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  16. ^ NASA (April 21, 2011). "Life Sciences Data Archive : Experiment". NASA. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved September 22, 2011. 
  17. ^ NASA (April 21, 2011). "Life Sciences Data Archive : Experiment". NASA. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved September 22, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Endeavour's performance during re-entry classed as phenomenal". NASA. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  19. ^ "NASA Image". NASA. October 12, 2010. Archived from the original on October 8, 2011. Retrieved October 12, 2010. 
  20. ^ a b c "NASA Preflight Interview: Scott Kelly". NASA. August 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  21. ^ "NASA Assigns Space Station Crews, Updates Expedition Numbering". NASA. October 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  22. ^ "Giffords gets visit from husband's twin brother". Arizona Republic. March 21, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  23. ^ Pearlman, Robert Z. (January 21, 2015). "Obama Hails NASA Astronaut Set for 1-Year Space Voyage in State of the Union". Purch. Retrieved March 3, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Astronaut Scott Kelly back on Earth after 11 months in space". March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2016. 
  25. ^ "One-Year ISS Mission Preview: 28 Experiments, 4 Expeditions and 2 Crew Members". The Planetary Society. 25 March 2015. 
  26. ^ "NASA, Roscosmos Assign Veteran Crew to Yearlong Space Station Mission". NASA. November 26, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-26. 
  27. ^ "NASA Twins Study Confirms Preliminary Findings". Retrieved 2018-03-15. 
  28. ^ "No, Scott Kelly's Year in Space Didn't Mutate His DNA". March 15, 2018. 
  29. ^ Jimmy Fallon on twitter. "first ever thank you note from space". 
  30. ^ NASA (March 11, 2016). "Astronaut Scott Kelly to Retire from NASA in April". NASA. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  31. ^ a b "Former astronaut Scott Kelly is United Nations Champion for Space". United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). November 22, 2016. 
  32. ^ "Astronaut Scott Kelly will write a book about his year in space". Los Angeles Times. 2016-04-06. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  33. ^ "A Year in Space: Watch the first two episodes". Time. March 25, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Time Magazine - The 100 Most Influential People". 
  35. ^ Execerpted from Endurance.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Douglas H. Wheelock
ISS Expedition Commander
26 November 2010 to 16 March 2011
Succeeded by
Dmitri Kondratyev
Preceded by
Gennady Padalka
ISS Expedition Commander
11 September 2015 to 1 March 2016
Succeeded by
Timothy Kopra