In a photo taken in 2015, astronaut Scott Kelly with President Obama. Credit: White House photo by Pete Souza.

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NASA’s Scott Kelly Back On Earth After 340 Days In Space


Astronaut Scott Kelly. Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz
Astronaut Scott Kelly. Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz

It turns out that if “The Martian” had been completely realistic, Matt Damon would have been about 6-foot-2 when he finally returned to Earth. Damon is 5-foot-10. But it turns out when you’re in space for extended period of time, the spinal column expands. We have proof of this. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned to terra firma after 340 days in space at the International Space Station. He’s two inches taller than when he left.

“Astronauts get taller in space as the spine elongates,” NASA’s Jeff Williams said, “but they return to preflight height after a short time back on Earth.”

Kelly relished the opportunity to “tower” over his twin brother Mark when they were reunited in Houston. The twins volunteered to take part in NASA’s “Twins Study.” NASA will evaluate what the different environments of space and Earth will have on identical twins.

Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko landed in barren, frozen Kazakhstan on Wednesday. They each checked into the International Space Station 340 days ago.

When the hatch on the capsule popped open, Kelly said the rush of freezing fresh air was a welcome reminder he was back “home.”

“I don’t mean to say it’s not fresh on the space station,” he said, “but there’s nothing like new cold air coming into the capsule.”

Salad
A photo of Commander Kelly’s first meal on earth.

For NASA, Kelly’s nearly year-long mission is one of the first steps toward a mission to Mars (and it’s not to rescue Damon).  A mission to Mars in the 2030s requires studying how the body and mind will fare during the 2½-year trip.

On his flight back to the United States, he took a congratulatory phone call from President Obama. And, like a lot of folks do on social media, he posted a Twit pic of his in-flight meal – a salad.

Kelly Tweeted: “My 1st #salad on #Earth! Growing fresh food like lettuce we grew on my #YearInSpace is vital for our #JourneytoMars.”

Damon – aka Mark Watney – would agree that a salad is preferable to a straight potato diet.

Written by Wendell Barnhouse

Wendell Barnhouse is a veteran journalist with over 40 years of experience as a writer and an editor. For the last 30 years, he wrote about college sports but he has had an interest and curiosity about aviation since he was in grade school.