NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will Thursday set a new record for the longest single stretch of time spent in space by an American, with 216 consecutive days at the International Space Station.
Kelly is more than midway through an entire year at the ISS, as part of an experiment to study the effects of long-term spaceflight on the body and mind.
Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko is also spending a year at the orbiting outpost for the study.
Kelly’s twin brother, Mark, is taking part on Earth to help scientists compare any genetic changes they see in Scott while in space.
Astronauts typically spend no longer than five to six months at a time in space.
“Breaking such a record for time in space is important because every additional day helps us better understand how long-duration spaceflight affects bodies and minds, which is critical to advancing NASA’s journey to Mars,” the US space agency said in a statement.
NASA hopes to send people to the Red Planet by the 2030s. But it remains unknown if explorers could survive the long journey, which might last three years.
Concerns for the health of pioneers in deep space include exposure to potentially cancer-causing levels of radiation, and the psychological difficulties of living in an enclosed space with no access to nature, family, or friends.
The record for longest single spaceflight was previously held by American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who spent 215 days in space as commander of the ISS in 2006.
Since Kelly has already flown in space several times before, he broke another record earlier in October for the most cumulative days spent in space by an American.
On October 16, Kelly marked his 383rd day living in space, surpassing US astronaut Mike Fincke’s record of 382 cumulative days.
But Kelly is a long way from the record of the longest time spent in space by a human being.
That honor goes to Russian Gennady Padalka, who set a 10-year-old record for the number of cumulative days in space June 28 when he reached 804 days.
Padalka flew to space with Kornienko and Kelly in March, and returned to Earth after six months.
“When he returned to Earth September 11, Padalka had spent 879 days living and working in space,” NASA said.
Kelly is scheduled to return to Earth on March 3, 2016, by which time he will have logged 522 total days living in space during four missions.
The ISS is about to mark its 15th year of continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit.
The research outpost has been staffed by a rotating cast of more than 200 people over the years.
Tongue-tied GOP strategist crashes and burns on-air while trying to deny Trump’s racism
Republican strategist Amy Tarkanian crashed and burned on CNN on Saturday while attempting to deny President Donald Trump's racism.
"I do not believe that the president’s tweets were racist. I do believe they were not well thought out. He needs that extra, 'Are you sure?' button on Twitter," Tarkanian argued.
"I'm a black man, I'm a Republican and a black man," the Rev. Joe Watkins interjected. "My mother's an immigrant, I would be angry if someone said that to my mother."
"Oh, it’s very offensive. But he did not say, because you are this color, go back to where you came from," Tarkanian argued. "I’m not supporting that tweet. Was it racist? No. Was it stupid? Yes."
Trump supporter blames Democrats for being targeted by the president: ‘Why is that racist?’
CNN interviewed a supporter of President Donald Trump in Eau Claire, Wisconsin who refused to acknowledge the racism in the president's "Go Back" attacks on four women of color in Congress.
The network interviewed Kerri Krumenauer of Wiersgalla Plumbing & Heating Company about Trump's attacks.
"How is it racist?" she asked.
"If you don't like this country, get out," she demanded. "Leave!"
She then showed how misinformed she was about the incident.
"He didn't use any names -- they stood up," she falsely claimed. In fact, Trump did use names and the targets did not stand up as they were not at his North Carolina campaign rally.
Here’s how Trump hopes to recreate his 2016 presidential win — and how Democrats can send him packing
Writing for CNN on Saturday, election forecaster Harry Enten explained how President Donald Trump's recent, racist behavior lies in his desire to recreate the same electoral conditions that gave him a victory in 2016 in the presidential election next year.
"The Trump strategy is pretty simple: 1. Drive up the unfavorable ratings of his Democratic rival as he did in 2016 in order to compensate for his own low ratings. 2. Bank on an electoral college/popular vote split as he did in 2016. 3. Use a campaign of racial resentment to drive up turnout even more among groups favorable toward the President," wrote Enten. As he noted, Democrats have excellent odds to flip back Michigan and Pennsylvania, but they will have to work harder to win back any of the other states Trump flipped from the 2012 Obama camp — in particular Wisconsin, which was the closest state after those two.