Scott Kelly

January 23, 2016

I am Astronaut Scott Kelly, currently spending a year in space. AMA!

Hello Reddit! My name is Scott Kelly. I am a NASA astronaut who has been living aboard the International Space Station since March of last year, having just passed 300 days of my Year In Space, an unprecedented mission that is a stepping stone to future missions to Mars and beyond. I am the first American to spend a whole year in space continuously.

On this flight, my fourth spaceflight, I also became the record holder for total days in space and single longest mission. A year is a long time to live without the human contact of loved ones, fresh air and gravity, to name a few. While science is at the core of this groundbreaking spaceflight, it also has been a test of human endurance.

Connections back on Earth are very important when isolated from the entire world for such a period of time, and I still have a way to go before I return to our planet. So, I look forward to connecting with you all back on spaceship Earth to talk about my experiences so far as I enter my countdown to when I will begin the riskiest part of this mission: coming home.

You can continue to follow my Year In Space on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Yes, I really am in space. 300 days later. I'm still here. Here's proof!

Ask me anything!

Real but nominal communication loss from the International Space Station, so I'm signing off! It's been great answering your Qs today. Thanks for joining me!

Hi Captain Kelly, I have two questions for you.

You have had an amazing career including

...What accomplishment/goal, space related or not, do you still want to achieve?

Also, today is your 302nd consecutive day aboard ISS, if you could go back and give yourself advice on day 1, what would you say?

I'd like to have some involvement and continue to work towards people going to Mars. The advice I would give myself on day 1 would be pack lighter!

What is your favorite David Bowie song?

You might be surprised, but it's not Space Oddity. Probably Modern Love.

Why do you always have your arms folded?

Your arms don't hang by your side in space like they do on Earth because there is no gravity. It feels awkward to have them floating in front of me. It is just more comfortable to have them folded. I don't even have them floating in my sleep, I put them in my sleeping bag.

Hi Scott! I'm a huge fan of your Instagram, and your amazing pictures of our planet.

My Question: What is your favorite part of Earth to see from space?

Also: Did you get to watch the SpaceX landing? What was your reaction?

My favorite spot on Earth to see from space is probably the Bahamas. The brilliant and varied colors of the blue water and contrast from here is pretty spectacular.

It was in the middle of my night. I couldn't watch it right away, but I read about it online. I was very impressed and excited for all of us.

Do you ever feel alone/afraid? If so, how do you combat those feelings?

I don't feel alone or afraid. I was up here for 6 weeks as the only American on the U.S. side of the space station and I was fine. I have been afraid when the ground has called and privatized the audio generally meaning something bad has happened. So I have been a little afraid.

What is your favorite space-related movie?

Also, if you had the chance to ride the space shuttle again, or take Orion on a journey to Mars, which would you pick?

I really enjoyed the Martian. I was able to watch it here aboard the space station. I've flown the space shuttle a couple of times, so I would want to fly to Mars. That would be something new and exciting, and is the next step in our journey of space exploration.

What is your favorite non-space related movie?

The Godfather

Hi Cmdr Kelly! I am dad to a couple of boys who are very much into space and astronaut work. Here are their two astronaut questions:

Peter (7yrs old): How long does it take to get used to being in space?

Simon (5yrs): Could a rogue spaceship sneak up on the space station without you being aware, and dock?

Peter, 302 days and counting! The longer I am here the more normal I feel. It always seems to be getting better.

Simon, Maybe an alien spaceship with a cloaking device. But not your normal spaceship, no. Unless it had a cloaking device, which doesn't exist, the U.S. Air Force would see it coming.


Unfortunately for me, I focused on looking out the window and daydreaming which took a lot of effort to recover from, proving that anything is possible!

What will be the first thing you eat once you're back on Earth?

The first thing I will eat will probably be a piece of fruit (or a cucumber) the Russian nurse hands me as soon as I am pulled out of the space capsule and begin initial health checks.

This is so great! 1.How do you regulate your sleep cycles? 2.How heavy is your space suit? and last, 3. How well have you adjusted to keeping social relationships while away? Will you have transitioning issues with this when you return home?

  1. We use Greenwich Mean Time and we get up at 6 in the morning and go to sleep at 10 at night.
  2. It's really light up here! On Earth, it weighs about 200 pounds.
  3. It's not the easiest thing, but we do have a good way to communicate. I do suspect there will be an adjustment period when I get back.

Hi Capt Kelly!

My girlfriend who doesn't reddit but follows you on IG wants to know the answer to this very important question - what happens when you sneeze or blow your nose in space? Does it stay on your face like tears?

I just sneezed twice coming into my crew quarters. And I do what I do on Earth and cover my mouth with my hand. If I didn't do that, it's possible the sneeze could be found floating in another module. I generally don't sneeze into open air on Earth or here in space.

Being up in space for an entire year is a LONG time. Have you noticed any effects on your body from weightlessness? Are your plans for recovery once you're back on earth more intensive than traditional programs for other astronauts who only go up for shorter time periods?

Good question. Yeah, there are a lot of changes that happen. Some of them you can't see, cause it's your eyes! Probably too many changes to go into detail here. I think my rehab plan is the same as if I were here for 6 months, but I'm not positive.

Hi Scott! Thanks for doing this interview today.

My Question: What is like to work with members of other nations space programs? Do the poltics that take place on Earth affect your relationship with them?

I think it's one of the great things about the space station program is that it's an international program. We get along very well. We have to because we rely on each other for our lives.

Hello Commander Kelly. Destin here. I've noticed your photography skills have gotten pretty sharp over the course of your mission. I'm enjoying your Instagram account.

We walked around the ISS in building 9 before your launch.. How has the configuration of the Space Station changed since your launch?

I also know you're a fan of "Endurance": Shackleton's Incredible Voyage. How often have you thought about his men while you're on Station during your Year In Space?

As you know, the Astronaut application process is open and I, like thousands of others want your job. Want to trade places?

Stay safe Commander.


Well, I haven't been in building 9 since February. But we have a new Cygnus cargo craft here.

I read Endurance: Shakleton's Incredible Voyage on my last flight, and I read it again during this flight. So, I do think of those men when I am on the space station. Thanks, Destin. I am getting smarter every day I am here.

Dear NAStranaut Scott Kelly,

My name is Victoria. I loved your blooming zinnias. Excellent space gardening! I have many questions, but here are a two:

  1. Do you stretch when you wake up in the morning from your space sleep? Is stretching just a waking up thing or does gravity make people want to stretch?
  2. If you had a big scoop of something powdery, like if you were measuring out cinnamon or another powdered spice would it float around in a little powdered blobby cloud, or would it disperse into the microgravity air and be all over the place? Similarly, if you tried to use a salt shaker on you NASA approved dinner, how would the little salt pieces behave? Obviously there's no gravity to cause them to fall into your food from the shaker.

I remember reading that the one thing you miss most about earth is basically earth. It's too bad you guys can't have a nice lawn to sit around on in space, or like an ISS team pet. Have you guys thought about getting a little cuddly hamster or something? They spend a lot of time in their little ball, so maybe they'd be cool with a hamster space ball. I kid, I kid.

I'm excited for you to come back to earth so that I can read/watch all of the interviews. I hope you and the crew are well and I love following you guys on Facebook/Instagram!

Sincerely, Victoria

Texas, USA, Earth

  1. My muscles and joints are a whole lot better up here than with gravity. It's almost like you are in a bed rest. There is no pressure or pain. I do stretch before I exercise because my muscles aren't stretched out, they are somewhat dormant.
  2. It would be a disaster to have something powder like that. Depending on how much it was, we would possibly consider shutting down the ventilation to stop it from spreading. For salt, we actually use liquid salt that we put on our food.

Hi, I'm a Kindergarten Teacher. My students and I have been following you since you went up last year. My past and present students are curious; what kind of things do you do for fun?

I read, write and do arithmetic like a Kindergartner (just kidding). But I do read, take photos of the Earth and play with my food.

What's the creepiest thing you've encountered while on the job?

Generally it has to do with the toilet. Recently I had to clean up a gallon-sized ball of urine mixed with acid.

The ball of urine I get, but... Acid? How? Where from?

The acid is added to the urine so the urine doesn't damage the machinery that moves it through the system. It keeps it from clogging up the system.

How many hours a day do you have to exercise in order to stay healthy in space?

About an hour and a half a day

Hello Captain Kelly, I would like to ask, does the ISS have any particular smell?

Smells vary depending on what segment you are in. Sometimes it has an antiseptic smell. Sometimes it has an odor that smells like garbage. But the smell of space when you open the hatch smells like burning metal to me.

What is the most interesting science experiment you have worked on these past 300 days on ISS and why?

Hi Scott!! Thanks for doing this. I am a huge NASA geek! I watch NASA TV just about every night with the ISS update. Thank you for your service to our country into the future space travel for all mankind. You and your brother are amazing people and I really look forward to hearing the results when you return home to compare you with your twin (earth bound) brother Mark. Wish you all the best my friend!

Alan Wickstrom

I did some research with rodents that was technically complicated, challenging and had implications for health benefits on Earth.

Hi Commander Kelly. My question is:

Now that you are able to count down the days to come home in March, what will you miss most about the Space Station daily life?

The challenge of living here. It's not easy and I have always liked to do things that are hard.

Hi Scott, thanks for doing this AMA. Could you tell us something unusual about being in space that many people don't think about?

The calluses on your feet in space will eventually fall off. So, the bottoms of your feet become very soft like newborn baby feet. But the top of my feet develop rough alligator skin because I use the top of my feet to get around here on space station when using foot rails.

Mr. Kelly, what is the largest misconception about space/space travel that society holds onto?

I think a lot of people think that because we give the appearance that this is easy that it is easy. I don't think people have an appreciation for the work that it takes to pull these missions off, like humans living on the space station continuously for 15 years. It is a huge army of hard working people to make it happen.

Do you ever have disagreements/arguments on board with the other crew, and if so what is it usually about?

I have never been a participant in an argument. I have witnessed some. Generally it involves work.

So weird, just thinking 2 days ago whether or not you've had an AMA because I wanted ask the following question:

What are the cardiovascular effects of longterm space travel?

Is your blood pressure lower?

Thank you and I love your Instagram

We are studying cardiovascular effects of long-term space travel. Much of the research we are doing here on the space station looks at the responses of our bodies in microgravity.

It seems blood pressure is lower because it doesn't have to fight against gravity.

Hey up there!! What does zero G feel like on your body when you are just hanging out? Does it make your eyes open a little bit wider, or anything like that?? Thank you so much for your dedication to the advancement of human space exploration.

It feels like there is no pressure at all on your body. Sometimes it feels like you are just hanging but you are not hanging by anything, just hanging there. If I close my eyes, I can give myself the sensation that I am falling. Which I am, I am falling around the Earth.

After 365 days in space do you think you will miss being on the International Space Station?

If so, no worries! In Puerto Rico we’ve got the world’s largest single-aperture telescope so you can keep an eye on it! Come visit after your #YearInSpace. We’ve been wanting for you to come ever since you took the most spectacular picture of The All-Star Island. We even made you a little video:

Absolutely, I will miss this place. But I am looking forward to returning home. I would love to visit Puerto Rico. I haven't been there in more than 25 years.

I am Adam. I am 5 years old.

How far away are you from earth?

I am 250 miles above the Earth, and I'm going very fast.

Hi Commander Scott Kelly! - If you could choose to, would you rather be born in another future generation where scientific/technological advancements have improved so greatly you could experience going traveling to another planet as an astronaut? - What's your camera setup? Your astrophotography truly is out of this world.

Definitely would want to be from the future! Assuming it's a good future.

I use a Nikon D4. Depending on what I am taking a picture of, the camera settings and lenses vary.

We are big fans of yours! I watched the livestream of the spacewalk last year- amazing. Does everything seem to take a really long time or do you get used to that? What would you like to see the next president do for the space program? And how often do you get to talk to your brother and daughters?

  1. It absolutely takes longer to do things when you can't put anything down.
  2. I would like the next president to support a budget that allows us to accomplish the mission that we are asked to perform, whatever that mission may be.
  3. I talk to my brother and daughters every few days.

What's it like to sleep in 0G? It must be great for the back. Does the humming of the machinery in the station affect your sleep at all?

Sleeping here is harder here in space than on a bed because the sleep position here is the same position throughout the day. You don't ever get that sense of gratifying relaxation here that you do on Earth after a long day at work. Yes, there are humming noises on station that affect my sleep, so I wear ear plugs to bag.

Capt. Kelly, my 7 and 5 year old, who like your twitter feed, wanted to know if you like Legos?

I love Legos! But I haven't played with toys in a long time.

Hello Scott!

I want to first say that you are a huge inspiration to me! I have been following your mission each day since you went up last year.

I know you guys have a 3D printer on the space station so have you done any interesting prints or any prints for fun besides the test prints?

Good luck and have fun with the rest of your mission!

We do have a 3D printer, but I haven't seen it. It is packed away and we haven't used it since I have been here. Hopefully we will use it soon!

Do you really feel the change in outside pressure when getting outside during the EVAs, where your suit inflates more and is it harder to move?

Do you have sense of stereoscopic depth, as to how far the earth is from you, or is it one scary and inconceivable distance?

What is one question you wish people asked you, or is just an interesting fact you would like people to know?

Amazing opportunity to talk to you, I'm watching ISS every time it's visible and flying over me!

Our spacesuit when we are spacewalking has about 4psi above the outside pressure, so when you are in it, it's generally the same stiffness as when you are doing a spacewalk. When I look at the clouds over the Earth, and I know how high clouds are, I get a sense we are really, really far above those clouds. So, it does look like we are very high. I wouldn't call it scary, but I am aware I am in space. A spacewalk requires an incredible amount of mental concentration, so it's not something I think of when I am spacewalking.

Hello Mr. Kelly, here is my question, and I would be honored if you answered it;

What constitues a day on the ISS? As in, what kind of time zone and/or which time zone do you use? I imagine that you constantly change "time zones" orbiting around Earth.

We work and exercise from when we get up until a couple of hours before we go to sleep. Our work involves research, maintenance, and taking care of the space vehicles. It is an honor to be up here.

We use Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

What do you do to make time pass fast when you feel bored or lonely in space?

I never feel bored up here. There is always plenty to do, and not enough free time to do it. As for lonely, we have pretty good ways to stay connected with people in your life. I certainly miss my loved ones, but I never feel lonely. And connecting to people back on Earth on social media like this helps too!

Happy 302 days in space! And thank you for doing this AMA from space! So cool! I have two main questions; first question inspired by The Martian and character Mark Watney's mission length.

  1. Upon completing your 1 year in space, if the offer was on the table, would you do a 2 year space mission in the future? And why? Would it depend on the mission (Moon, Mars, ISS again)?

  2. Can you describe your sleep cycle over the last 300 days in space? Always a solid 8 hours? Did you ever get strangely tired or have you consistently felt well rested? Bonus Question: When sleeping, is your dream world mostly in zero-G?

  1. It would definitely depend on the mission. If it was to the moon or Mars, yeah I would do it.
  2. I am not a great sleeper. I don't think I have ever slept 8 hours straight in the last 20 years. I wind up waking up a couple of times. My dreams are sometimes space dreams and sometimes Earth dreams. And they are crazy.

How the connectivity from up there?

Pretty good. I'm chatting with you from space now. So, I'd say good enough. It's like dial-up, but sometimes it works better than other times.

Hi Captain Kelly, What advice would you give folks aspiring to be astronauts?

You need to choose a field to work in that is qualifying first. Some kind of engineering, math, science, medicine, military pilot, etc. Then, you need to do well at whatever you are doing. Also, try to develop other skills beyond your work.

What ONE thing will you forever do differently after your safe return home?

I will appreciate nature more.

Greetings Scott! Just two quick questions:

  1. What has been the most surprising thing that you've experienced so far?
  2. Have there been any misconceptions/expectations of your experience that turned out to be different than what you thought?

I hate to disappoint you, but not really. I lived on the space station for 159 days before. I knew that was a long time, and I knew this would be longer.

greeting from earth mr.scott straight outta compton whats up?

Straight outta space. I want to see that movie, that's what's up.

How are you doing this AMA? Are you directly typing it from a laptop on the ISS, or are is it being dictated?

What do you suppose the chances are of us getting to mars any time soon?

I am talking to you live, but someone else is typing this in.

Depends on your definition of soon. If we wanted to devote the appropriate resources to go to Mars, we could do it.

Do you watch sci-fi while you're up there or does some of that stuff hit a little too close to home?

I watched the movie Gravity not long after I arrived back in last March. I thought it was a cool movie to watch here aboard the space station that is also the setting of Gravity.

Captain Kelly, I have been hearing about the deorbiting of the ISS in the next ten years.

What is your view on how the ISS hardware/modules have been aging? Do you believe it makes more sense to deorbit the ISS or attempt to keep it going by replacing modules as they become too old to maintain?

It seems like the inside of the space station has very good material condition. The outside looks a little aged. As far as maintaining it versus deorbiting it, it just depends what our priorities are. I think it would be great to keep it going forever, but of course everything has costs.

EVAs were very difficult in the Gemini years. Have they gotten any easier? How hard is it to move around. Thanks.

It's still hard work, but we are a lot better at it. We have a better sense for what is required.

CDR Kelly, From two girls who are obsessed with science projects and art Caitlin (7th grade): Is any of the food as good as homemade food? Erin (4th grade): Does the moon look bigger from the space station? Me: Will you continue to practice your new-found gardening skills when you return home?

Caitlin, No absolutely not. But I guess it depends on your home! It is good enough, but not as good. Erin, No, we are not much closer. You, Possibly...

Hello, Mr. Kelly. Now that you have experienced so much time in space, what do you think is your personal limit? How much time could you spend in space before you throw up your hands and say "That's it! I gotta get home!"?

It would depend on why I was here. If there was a legitimate reason to stay here, I would do that. If staying here longer was just to stay longer, I would throw up my hands.

Hello Commander Kelly!

I love star gazing, but sometimes it is difficult for me to do it from where I live. I bet observing Earth must be astounding, but it shouldn't be different from observing the universe, right? Do you like star gazing? How is it from the ISS? What about the shooting stars?

I love your work! Cheers.

Efraim Rodrigues.

Oh yeah, we have a pretty obscured view of the night sky. We are moving pretty fast (17,500mph). We do not have a telescope we can look through, though. I have seen shooting stars, but not as many as you would think.

Hello Scott, Would it be possible for you to photograph the planets all in alignment over the next 2 weeks and post on FB and Twitter? I'd love to see them from your standpoint in space. Thanks. :)

I've been trying. I've been looking for them. I don't think our orbit is where we can see them yet, but we will be. I'm keeping my eye out for it and will certainly share them with everyone when I see it.

Do you and the the other crew members play any space pranks on each other?

EDIT: In hindsight I should have also asked what those pranks were.


Hi Scott! :) First off, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions, and thank you for the work you are doing to improve our understanding and appreciation of this vast universe that we, no matter how small of a dot we are, call home. I can't wait to read your answers to all the great questions so many people are posting right now. I saw the pictures you've posted over the past couple of days of Winter Storm Jonas moving over the U.S. They truly are absolutely breathtaking shots, and really puts into perspective just how powerful nature is (as if the two-and-a-half feet of snow outside my door didn't put it into enough perspective for me, haha). My question is, what is the single most breathtakingly beautiful or powerful thing you've seen from space? (If there is even just one - I can imagine you've probably seen so many awe-inspiring things from way up there that it might be hard to narrow it down!) Once again, thank you so much! :)

Probably this one day where we had incredible aurora completely around the space station. Seeing North and South Korea from space is pretty profound. Hurricane Patricia was pretty profound as well.

What's it like adjusting back to gravity after being without for so long? Is it difficult? I love your photo's and updates, they're so fascinating!

It takes a while. Everyone is different. Dizzy, tired, sore muscles. It's an individual case by case. I went through the adjustment period on my return to Earth after my last flight on the space station. I'll have to wait until I return again after this flight to see what my adjustment will be after a year.

Hi Scott!

It's safe to say that you're living a life many only dream of and I thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! Wishing for your safe return upon the missions completion! Anyway, my questions are;

and finally

Thanks once again!

  1. This mission isn't easy. So I think when I complete this mission, it will be up there, definitely.
  2. Sleeping, taking pictures of the Earth, and getting to the end of a satisfying day of work
  3. It is a little bit surreal to know that you are in your own little spaceship and a few inches from you is instant death.

What has been the most challenging thing about being in space for a year? Also, what are your thoughts on the possible new planet in our solar system?

The most challenging thing about being in space for a year is time. A year is a long time.

Do you wear space sunscreen? On a more serious note: would you be willing to travel into deep space with current technology, given the dangers of things like cosmic rays and radiation?

No space sunscreen! Our windows are protective so you don't need sunscreen. I would want to have better radiation protection as we get further from the Earth. That is something we are working on.

Can you do a flip? Is it hard?

Yes! It is easy. I won't be able to do that when I get home.

Hello, Mr. Kelly! Thank you for doing this interview!

My questions are:

1) How does the space station maintain attitude control with all the solar panels swinging around, the solar radiation pushing on the ship, and you guys pushing around inside?

2) Many aticles that have talked about the zinnia you guys grew state that it's edible. Do you plan to eat it?

3) Have you gotten any data on the changes between you and your earthbound brother? Or do you have to wait until you get back to get any feedback?

4) When you get back, what's the first Earthly food you want to eat that you can't get on the ISS?

5) Would you wave at us next time you pass over Purdue University?

Again, thank you SO MUCH!

EDIT: To the people that are going down the comments section and downvoting everyone, have a nice day.

Wow, a 5 in 1 question. To allow me to answer as many Qs from others, I'll answer one of these. 2) I read the zinnia is an edible flower, but I am lucky I don't need to eat it for my survival because I also read it is bitter in taste. But I did place a zinnia as a centerpiece at our dinner table one evening.

What was your reaction to the possibility of finding a new planet?

I think we will continue to make new discoveries about our own solar system as well as the universe as we continue to explore and go beyond our boundaries. Space is a very big place.

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Scott Kelly conducted on Reddit on 2016-01-23. The Reddit AMA can be found here.