In 2015, Capt. Scott Kelly, a veteran astronaut, will attempt to the longest space mission as an American. Kelly is to be accompanied by Roscosmos cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko in a one-year mission to the International Space Center, according to CNN.
During this mission, the duo plan to "help scientists explore the effects of living in space on the human body," NASA said. "They will provide information regarding health and crew performance and help with determining and validating risk-reduction measures," in hopes to contribute to the planning of further missions, such as Mars.
If the duo succeeds, they will be the first Americans to complete this long of a space mission, with the current records being held by Valery Polyakov, who spent 438 days in space between January 1994 and March 1995. According to Fox News, "The extended mission was approved almost two months ago to provide a medical foundation for future missions around the moon, as well as far-flung trips to asteroids and Mars."
"Only four humans have logged a continuous year or more in space on a single mission, and all of those missions involved the Russian Mir space station," said NASA spokesman Joshua Buck. Kelly and Kornienko plan to depart in spring 2015 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and will then travel aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
Kelly is the twin brother of former space shuttle commander, Mark Kelly, whose wife, Gabrielle Giffords, survived a shooting near Tucson in 2011. Kelly has already experienced 180 days in space, with experience as a pilot on a 1999 space shuttle mission, a commander on STS-118 in 2007, a flight engineer on International Space Station Expedition 25 in 2010 on International Space Station Expedition 25 and as a commander of Expedition 26 in 2011, according to CNN.
Kelly's co-pilot, Kornienko, on the other hand, has worked in the space industry since 1986. His experience includes working as a flight engineer on the Expedition 23/24 crews in 2010 and has spent a total 176 days in space.
"Their skills and previous experience aboard the space station align with the mission's requirements," Bill Gerstenmaier, head of human exploration for NASA, said in a statement. "The one-year increment will expand the bounds of how we live and work in space and will increase our knowledge regarding the effects of microgravity on humans as we prepare for future missions beyond low-Earth orbit."
The astronaut duo will begin their space training next year.