Astronaut Scott Kelly Paces Start to ISS Marathon Mission, Chance to Sip Espresso

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Nearly a month into his marathon mission aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly says he's adjusting to life and work aboard the orbiting science laboratory by pacing his activities -- advice he received from former Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Titov, who logged 366 days aboard the former Mir station nearly two decades ago.

Kelly and cosmonaut colleague Mikhail Kornienko, who began their estimated 342 day ISS mission with a Mar. 27 Soyuz rocket launching and docking, spoke Tuesday about their early going with Russia Today. The brief exchange also touched on the ISSpresso, the Italian engineered espresso machine that reached the space station last Friday aboard the most recent SpaceX Dragon re-supply mission with much fanfare.

Kelly, 51, and Korienko, who turned 55 a week ago, are doing well, spending most of their time conducting or serving as subjects in a range of science and health related experiments. None of the six U. S., Russian and Italian ISS  astronauts, however, has had time to unpack and install the Argotec/Lavazza espresso maker, which apparently arrived with just 15 single serve coffee pods.

European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti , one of six ISS crew members,  displays the ISSpresso machine at an Italian Space Agency gathering.  Photo Credit: Lavazza USA

"The advice he gave me was simply to pace myself, work at a very steady, deliberate pace," said Kelly, of the counsel he received from Titov shortly after he was selected by NASA in late 2012 to participate in the longest  ISS flight to date.

'I've been doing that, and I hope if I continue to do that, it will carry me through the end of this with as much energy and enthusiasm as I have right now." said Kelly.

Some of the research activities occupying the retired U. S. Navy test pilot involve mice and roundworms. The Dragon cargo mission delivered  20 rodents, subjects in a pharmaceutical company experiment that requires the mice to undergo  periodic bone scans to document changes in their skeletal structure. The roundworms serve as subjects in an experiment that seeks to identify molecular level changes linked to the loss of muscle strength in astronauts exposed to long periods of weightlessness.

The rodent and roundworm experiments are expected to produce findings that help to keep astronauts physically fit on future deep space missions. Likewise, the ISSpresso machine will be assessed for its utility in deep space as a source of tea and broth as well as strong coffee, Kelly explained.

"We definitely look forward to the espresso machine. We have a lot of activity going on right now with the Dragon re-supply ship. With that and the other science going on, we still have not had the opportunity to get into the espresso," he said. "Unfortunately, right now we have only 15 (of the single serving cartridges). So, we are not in any kind of rush to use them all up. We will get into that when we have some time, and use them sparingly until we can get some more."

Kelly has a long way to go to surpass former NASA astronaut Mike Lopez-Alegria's 215 day record for continuous time in space, set aboard the ISS in 2006-07.

Titov and former cosmonaut Musa Manarov ended their year-long stay aboard Mir in December 1988.

Cosmonaut Valery Polyakov holds the world's record for continuous time in space, 438 days established aboard Mir in 1994-95.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on May 9, 2015

The Russians have been in orbit for as long as ~1.2 years and I just learned that they have done a year in space on four missions. I wouldn't expect the basic results to change too much.

Now don't get me wrong but I think that perhaps we should place them in orbit for 1.5 or even 2.0 years (in the "name of science" and only if they agree). Engineers of often forced to use sample sizes of at least say 30 which are necessary to arive at "engineering" statistical significance.

However, since we can never do that and the Russians have a sample size of four under their belts, I think we should have inched up the duration at least six months. Easy for me to say, but at 68 I would go up in a heartbeat (if I didn't have to exercise so hard), just so I could look out the windows at the planet. .

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