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The former astronaut Scott Kelly received the Intrepid 21st-Century Pioneer Award during the Salute to Freedom gala. The annual celebration is organized in New York City, on an aircraft carrier turned into a museum.
Scott Kelly had just finished his longest and his last mission in space. Between 2015 and 2016, he spent almost an entire year without interruptions in space, on the International Space Station. He came back to Earth on the 2nd of March.
He retired from NASA in the same month and started speaking at events around the country.
Before the actual event preparations, Kelly met with the Breitling Jet Team and convinced them to be official sponsors of Fleet Week. The company lent their L-39C Albatros jet for the whole duration of the event which ended on the 30th of May.
Scott Kelly’s last mission was “Year-in-Space”, a project designed to study the influence of prolonged space travel on humans. Another astronaut involved in the mission was the Russian Mikhail Kornienko, who spent 340 days in orbit.
After his return, Kelly often spoke about his experience in orbit. One of the messages is that pollution can be seen from space and that Earth’s atmosphere is only a thin layer in comparison with its mass.
His experience in space gave him a sense of how much human beings can accomplish. The extraordinary dimensions of the station and the incredible technology inspired him and helped him recover hope in humanity.
Kelly’s last mission is an attempt to foresee the effects on human health of prolonged travels in space. Such information is valuable for NASA’s plans for sending people to other planets. One long-debated trip is the one to Mars, which may happen before the year 2020.
Regarding this trip to Mars, the astronaut said that life support should be carefully considered, such as the quality of water and food. The ship will also need upgraded protection against radiations.
Among the effects that a space trip bears on humans, there are a loss of bone density, difficulties of keeping the balance and minor aches in the joints. All these are caused by the impact of low gravity – the body functions differently when weight pressure is low.
While not having fresh food available in space, Kelly even managed to grow lettuce on the International Space Station. At this moment, astronauts are served packaged foods similar to those in the army.
The retired astronaut Scott Kelly received the career honoring prize during an event organized by the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum from New York.
Image Source: YouTube