Proving that science fiction and science fact often go hand in hand, NASA released the official poster for the International Space Station Expedition 45 crew. It’s very clear that the Force is strong with them. The six astronauts and cosmonauts, who will begin their residency on the orbital outpost beginning this September, traded their blue NASA flight suits for brown Jedi robes at the photo shoot. The attention to detail is inspirational, and reaffirms our faith in the people whose job it is to make the space program appealing to the general public.
Entitled International Space Station Expedition XLV: The Science Continues, the poster features the station’s first year-long mission crew Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko (right, bottom and middle), together with NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren (left, bottom), Russian cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko (right, top and left, top) and Kimiya Yui with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Each is dressed perfectly in Jedi robes that look like they came straight from the wardrobe truck, and each carries a differently colored light saber. If they wanted an inspiring, exciting image for their official poster, we think they nailed it.
Did you miss that bit about this new mission featuring the first year long mission crew? No astronaut has ever been in space for a solid year, but American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will be the first two humans to do it. Last December 18 the pair appeared at a press conference at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris to discuss the mission.
“What makes this exciting, for me, this one-year flight is about the science and everything we’re going to learn from expanding the envelope on the space station greater than we’ve currently done,” Kelly said. “We’re going to go to Mars some day. The International Space Station is really a great platform to learn much more about having people live and work in space for longer durations. This one year flight is one of the many stepping stones towards leaving low Earth orbit.”
And it gets even more interesting. Scott Kelly has a twin brother, who is also an astronaut. His brother, Mark Kelly, will remain on Earth as a control subject. Since they’re almost exactly identical, NASA will be able to get a lot of information by comparing the two men’s physiology and psychology. Even better, since Mark is an astronaut too, NASA has data on him going back to 1995.
Mark Kelly is also the husband of Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords (D), who survived being shot in the head in 2011 by a gunman during a public appearance near Tucson. By May of that year Giffords had recovered enough to travel Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch of STS-134, the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour, which was commanded by her husband Kelly.
The successful test of the Orion spacecraft last December dovetails with this. The craft is meant for missions that take space voyagers out of near Earth orbit, and is the first craft since the Apollo series to do so.
Good luck on the mission, guys. And may the Force be with you.
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