NASA astronaut Scott Kelly gave his first post-flight interviews in Kazakhstan today, after wrapping up a 340-day stay on the International Space Station. Kelly has only been back on Earth for a little over 12 hours now, but the former ISS commander briefly discussed what it's like to be on solid ground again and the difficulties of living so long in space.
In interviews with NASA and the Russian press, Kelly described the feeling of breathing fresh air for the first time in nearly a year. "I don't mean to say it's not fresh on the space station, but there's nothing like new, cold air coming into the capsule," said Kelly. He also talked about how nice it was to be greeted by a welcoming committee after he first landed, as it allowed him to see many of his old co-workers and friends again.
"There's nothing like new, cold air coming into the capsule."
When asked about what it was like to spend up to 11 months on the space station, Kelly reiterated that it wasn't an easy task. "A year is a long time, you know," he said. "It felt like I'd been up there my whole life after about the first six months." But Kelly said he isn't exactly relieved to be back on Earth, and that leaving the ISS was a bittersweet experience. He also made it clear that he would consider flying in space again "without question."
Kelly's nearly year-long stay aboard the ISS was the main focus of NASA's One-Year Mission — an experiment to see what long-term exposure to microgravity does to the human body. Kelly underwent numerous medical tests prior to and during his flight to document how his body changed, and he'll continue to do tests for the next year. But in the meantime, Kelly is receiving a ton of praise for his lengthy space journey. Numerous celebrities such as Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson have congratulated Kelly on his return, and Kelly even got a shout out from President Obama today, who recognized the importance of the mission.