President Obama gave a shout out to NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who will become the first American to embark on a year-long mission in space, during his State Of The Union address on Tuesday.
NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly will join Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko to become the first humans to spend a year aboard the International Space Station. They are scheduled to lift off on March 27, 2015 as a part of Expedition 43 to the space station.
While it won’t set the record for the longest human spaceflight, a record held by Russian Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov during his time aboard the Mir space station, it will be the longest human spaceflight performed by an American astronaut.
“Last month, we launched a new spacecraft as part of a re-energized space program that will send American astronauts to Mars,” President Obama said in his State Of The Union address speaking of NASA’s Orion crew vehicle. The Orion spacecraft, which is designed to take humans to Mars, successfully completed its first test flight late last year.
“And in two months, to prepare us for those missions, Scott Kelly will begin a year-long stay in space,” Obama continued. Extended missions aboard the International Space Station are an essential element of NASA’s journey to Mars. Understanding the effects of prolonged missions in space is crucial to human missions to Mars.
“Good luck Captain,” Obama said as he turned to face the astronaut. “We’re proud of you!”
Scott Kelly waved as he received a standing ovation from the members of Congress at the State Of The Union. Scott Kelly, whose twin brother Mark Kelly was also a NASA astronaut, attended the State Of The Union address as a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama.