Scott Kelly (astronaut)

Scott Kelly (astronaut)

Scott Kelly
NASA Astronaut
Nationality American
Status Active
Born (1964-02-21) February 21, 1964
Orange, New Jersey
Other names
Scott Joseph Kelly
Other occupation
Test pilot
Rank Captain, USN
Time in space
Currently in space
Selection NASA Astronaut Group 16, 1996
Missions STS-103, STS-118, Soyuz TMA-01M (Expedition 25/26), Soyuz TMA-16M/Soyuz TMA-18M (Expedition 43/44/45/46)
Mission insignia

Scott Joseph Kelly (born February 21, 1964) is an American astronaut, engineer and a retired U.S. Navy Captain. A veteran of three previous missions, Kelly was selected in November 2012 for a special year-long mission to the International Space Station, which began in March 2015.[1][2][3]

Kelly commanded the International Space Station (ISS) on Expedition 26. Kelly's identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, is a former astronaut. The Kelly brothers are the only siblings to have traveled in space.[1][4]

Kelly's first spaceflight was as pilot of Space Shuttle Discovery during STS-103 in December 1999. This was the third servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, and lasted for just under eight days. His second spaceflight was as mission commander of STS-118, a 12-day Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station in August 2007.

Kelly became a long-duration crewmember of ISS on October 9, 2010, after arriving on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.[5] He arrived at the station during Expedition 25, serving as a flight engineer.[6] He took over command of the station on November 25, 2010, at the start of Expedition 26 which began officially when the spacecraft Soyuz TMA-19 undocked, carrying the previous commander of the station, Douglas H. Wheelock.[7]

He currently serves as Commander of the International Space Station on the one year mission.[8] In October 2015, he set the record for the total amount of days spent in space by an American astronaut, 382.[9]


  • Naval career 1
  • NASA career 2
    • Spaceflight experience 2.1
      • STS-103 2.1.1
      • STS-118 2.1.2
      • Soyuz TMA-01M 2.1.3
      • ISS Expedition 25 2.1.4
      • ISS Expedition 26 2.1.5
    • September 2010 interview 2.2
    • Year-long mission 2.3
  • Education 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Organizations 5
  • Awards 6
    • Honors 6.1
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Naval career

Kelly received his commission via the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) following graduation from the State University of New York Maritime College in May 1987. He was designated a Naval Aviator in July 1989 at Naval Air Station Chase Field in Beeville, Texas.

He reported to Fighter Squadron 101 (VF-101) at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, for initial F-14 Tomcat training. Upon completion of this training, he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 143 (VF-143) and made overseas deployments to the North Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and Persian Gulf aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Scott Kelly was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland in January 1993 and completed training in June 1994. After graduation, he worked as a test pilot at the Strike Aircraft Test Squadron, Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division, at Patuxent River, flying the F-14A/B/D, F/A-18A/B/C/D and KC-130F. Kelly was the first pilot to fly an F-14 with an experimental digital flight control system installed and performed subsequent high angle of attack and departure testing.

He has logged more than 8,000 flight-hours in more than 40 different aircraft and spacecraft. Kelly has more than 250 carrier landings.

After attaining the rank of Captain in the U.S. Navy, Kelly retired from active duty on June 1, 2012 after 25 years of Naval service and continues to serve as an astronaut as a civil servant.

NASA career

Selected by NASA in April 1996, Kelly reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. On completion of training, he was assigned to technical duties in the Astronaut Office Spacecraft Systems/Operations Branch.

Kelly was assigned to flight status on NASA's Space Shuttle program, officially designated Space Transportation System, or STS. After Kelly's first flight on STS-103 he served as NASA’s Director of Operations in Star City, Russia. Kelly was a back-up crew member for ISS Expedition 5. He also served as the Astronaut Office Space Station Branch Chief.

In September 2002, Kelly served as the commander of the NEEMO 4 mission aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory, four miles off shore from Key Largo. Kelly and his crewmates spent five days saturation diving from Aquarius as a space analogue for working and training under extreme environmental conditions. The mission was delayed due to Hurricane Isadore, forcing National Undersea Research Center (NURC) managers to shorten it to an underwater duration of five days. Then, three days into their underwater mission, the crew members were told that Tropical Storm Lili was headed in their direction and to prepare for an early departure from Aquarius. Fortunately, Lili degenerated to the point where it was no longer a threat, so the crew was able to remain the full five days.[10][11] In April 2005, Kelly was a crew member on the NEEMO 8 mission.[12]

Spaceflight experience


Kelly was the pilot of STS-103 Discovery (December 19–27, 1999), on an eight-day mission during which the crew successfully installed new instruments and upgraded systems on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Enhancing HST scientific capabilities required three space walks. Traveling 3.2 million miles in space, the STS-103 mission was accomplished in 120 Earth orbits, spanning 191 hours and 11 minutes.[8]


Kelly served as mission commander of STS-118 Endeavour (August 8–21, 2007), the 119th Space Shuttle flight, the 22nd flight to the station and the 20th flight for Endeavour. During the mission, Endeavour's crew successfully added a truss segment, a new gyroscope and external spare parts platform to the International Space Station. A new system that enables docked shuttles to draw electrical power from the station to extend visits to the outpost was activated successfully.

During and after the mission, the media focused heavily on a small puncture in the heat shield, created by a piece of insulation foam that came off the external tank of Endeavour during liftoff. Foam impact was the cause of the destruction of Space Shuttle Columbia, but the extent of damage was very small in comparison and in a less critical area.[13]

Four spacewalks (EVAs) were performed by three crew members. Endeavour carried some 5,000 pounds of equipment and supplies to the station and returned to Earth with some 4,000 pounds of hardware and no longer needed equipment. Traveling 5.3 million miles in space, the STS-118 mission was completed in 12 days, 17 hours, 55 minutes and 34 seconds.[8]

Soyuz TMA-01M

Kelly flew to the ISS aboard Soyuz TMA-01M from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:10 pm EDT on Thursday, October 7, 2010 (5:10 am Friday in Kazakhstan). Aboard the Soyuz rocket with Kelly were Soyuz Commander Aleksandr Kaleri of Russia and Russian Flight Engineer Oleg Skripochka.[14]

TMA-01M is the first of a new generation of the Soyuz spacecraft. Kelly discussed the upgrades in a pre-flight interview: "The improvements are rather significant. The displays that the cosmonauts and myself—although my role in the Soyuz is somewhat minor—use to control the vehicle have been upgraded to make flying it easier. It’s less operator-intensive, but the main and most important change is they have a new, what we would refer to as a flight control computer. So the computer that operates the systems on board is new and the software is new.

"Now the software is written in a way to kind of model the previous algorithms that control the vehicle but it is new software and it is new hardware, most of which has been tested on the Progress, Russian resupply vehicles, but the Progress doesn’t re-enter the same way as the Soyuz does so when we come home in March it’ll be the first time that this new flight control computer and the entry software will be demonstrated in flight."[15]

ISS Expedition 25

Kelly, Aleksandr Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka arrived at the International Space Station on October 9, 2010. Kelly served as flight engineer during his time on Expedition 25.[5] October 9 marked the beginning of the second part of Expedition 25 bringing the number of people aboard the ISS to six. The rest of the crew included Commander Douglas H. Wheelock, along with flight engineers Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin.

ISS Expedition 26

Kelly posing for the Expedition 26 crew picture on July 16, 2010.

Kelly was the commander of Expedition 26 which began on November 25, 2010, when half of the crew of Expedition 25 returned to Earth on Soyuz TMA-19.[16] On January 8, 2011, with over two months remaining in the mission, Kelly's sister-in-law Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tucson. Kelly returned to Earth, landing in Kazakhstan on March 16, 2011. He traveled directly to Houston to see his brother and Giffords.[17]

Prior to his mission Kelly was asked about what it will be like to command the ISS: "Certainly as the commander you’re responsible for safety and the health of your people and making sure they have everything they need to do their jobs. I’ll certainly be conscious of those things but we’re all professionals, we all understand what we need to do, and we’re all kind of self-starters and kind of take care of ourselves very well so it shouldn’t be much different than when Doug Wheelock, the previous commander, was in charge."[15]

During Kelly’s time aboard the International Space Station (including Expeditions 25 and 26) there were a number of visiting space vehicles.[15] These include:

  • A Russian Soyuz spacecraft arrived with the rest of the Expedition 26 crew
  • Two Progress resupply vehicles
  • A European resupply Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)
  • A Japanese HTV [H-II Transfer Vehicle]
  • Space shuttle mission STS-133

Problems with the launch of Discovery pushed shuttle mission STS-134 beyond the time of Kelly's stay aboard the ISS. STS-134 was commanded by Kelly's brother Mark.

September 2010 interview

In anticipation of the potential rendezvous in space of the Kelly brothers, NASA conducted an extensive interview with Scott and Mark which is available on the NASA website.

Year-long mission

Patch for yearlong mission

In November 2012, NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and their international partners selected two veteran spacefarers for a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station in 2015. This mission includes collecting scientific data important to future human exploration of our solar system. NASA selected Scott Kelly and Roscosmos chose Mikhail Korniyenko. Kelly and Korniyenko launched aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 27, 2015[18][3] and will land in Kazakhstan in spring 2016. Kelly and Korniyenko already have a connection; Kelly was a backup crew member for the station's Expedition 23/24 crews, where Korniyenko served as a flight engineer. The goal of their year-long expedition aboard the orbiting laboratory is to understand better how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space.[19] Data from the 12-month expedition will help inform current assessments of crew performance and health and will determine better and validate countermeasures to reduce the risks associated with future exploration as NASA plans for missions around the moon, an asteroid and ultimately Mars.[20] Part of this research also includes a comparative study on the genetic effects of spaceflight with Scott’s twin brother Mark as the ground control subject.


Kelly graduated from Mountain High School in 1982. He received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the State University of New York Maritime College[21] in 1987, and a M.S. degree in Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1996.

Personal life

Kelly was born in Orange, New Jersey, to Richard and Patricia Kelly, and raised in the nearby community of West Orange. He went to Mountain High School along with his identical twin brother Mark. He is divorced and has two daughters.[22] He is in a long-term relationship with Amiko Kauderer a Public Affairs Officer at NASA Johnson Space Center. His sister-in-law is Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona.


Kelly is an Associate Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a member of the Association of Space Explorers.[8]


He has received the following awards and decorations:[8]

Ribbon Description Notes
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Superior Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Navy Achievement Medal
Navy Unit Commendation
National Defense Service Medal
Southwest Asia Service Medal
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
NASA Distinguished Service Medal
NASA Exceptional Service Medal
NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
NASA Space Flight Medal Three awards
Medal "For Merit in Space Exploration" Russian Federation


Kelly received a Korolev Diploma from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in 1999. He received an honorary Doctorate of Science degree from the State University of New York in 2008. Kelly was featured on the cover of Time Magazine’s December 2014/January 2015 Issue and was included in one of Time’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2016. During the January 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama recognized Kelly, who was in the audience, for his upcoming Year In Space mission. President Obama encouraged Kelly to, “Instagram it.” He posts on Instagram and Twitter under the name, “StationCDRKelly.” You can view his Twitter here.


  1. ^ a b Sanders, Craig (2003-02-06). "Twins in Outer Space". Twinstuff. Missouri City, Texas. Archived from the original on 2015-03-27. Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  2. ^ NASA, Roscosmos Assign Veteran Crew to Yearlong Space Station Mission
  3. ^ a b Kramer, Miriam (March 28, 2015). "One-Year Crew Begins Epic Trip on International Space Station".  
  4. ^ Mark Kelly's Official NASA Bio
  5. ^ a b "International Space Station Expedition 25". NASA. October 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  6. ^ "Expedition 25 Returns Home". NASA. November 26, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-03. 
  7. ^ "International Space Station Expedition 26". NASA. October 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Biographical Data". NASA. October 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ NASA (March 21, 2006). "NEEMO History". NASA. Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  11. ^ NASA (April 21, 2011). "Life Sciences Data Archive : Experiment". NASA. Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  12. ^ NASA (April 21, 2011). "Life Sciences Data Archive : Experiment". NASA. Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  13. ^ "Endeavour's performance during re-entry classed as phenomenal". NASA. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  14. ^ "NASA Image". NASA. October 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  15. ^ a b c "NASA Preflight Interview: Scott Kelly". NASA. August 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  16. ^ "NASA Assigns Space Station Crews, Updates Expedition Numbering". NASA. October 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  17. ^ "Giffords gets visit from husband's twin brother". Arizona Republic. March 21, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "One-Year ISS Mission Preview: 28 Experiments, 4 Expeditions and 2 Crew Members". The Planetary Society. 25 March 2015. 
  20. ^ "NASA, Roscosmos Assign Veteran Crew to Yearlong Space Station Mission". NASA. November 26, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-26. 
  21. ^ Astronaut Biography: Scott Kelly< Biography
  22. ^ "A Year in Space: Watch the first two episodes". Time. March 25, 2015. 

External links

  • Scott Kelly on Twitter
  • NASA Biography
  • August 4, 2010, NASA pre-flight interview with Kelly
  • October 7, 2010, Soyuz TMA-01M launch video
  • Spacefacts biography of Scott Kelly
  • Current photo of Scott Kelly
Preceded by
Douglas H. Wheelock
ISS Expedition Commander
26 November 2010 to 16 March 2011
Succeeded by
Dmitri Kondratyev
Preceded by
Gennady Padalka
ISS Expedition Commander
11 September 2015 to present
Succeeded by