"The air out here feels great."Scott Kelly’s one-year mission aboard the International Space Station has helped to advance deep space exploration and America’s Journey to Mars," Nasa administrator Charles Bolden in a statement.The research aims to help the US space agency and its partners develop plans for eventual human missions to Mars that will last at least two years. (Photo: AFP)Nasa astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth on Wednesday after nearly a year on the International Space Station, the longest US space mission on record, intended to pave the way for human travel to Mars.The world’s longest missions were carried out by four Soviet-era cosmonau-ts aboard the now-defunct Mir space station, including a flight from January 1994 to March 1995, spanning nearly 438 days by record holder Valeri Polyakov, a physician.Kelly and Kornienko have been aboard the space station for 340 days, about twice as long as previous crews.Volkov, who has been in space for five-and-a-half months, was the first to emerge from the capsule, to be greeted by his father Alexander Volkov, also a cosmonaut. "Scott has become the first American astronaut to spend a year in space, and in so doing, helped us take one giant leap toward putting boots on Mars. Kelly’s 340-day mission eclipses the previous US record-long spaceflight of 215 days, set by former astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria aboard the space station in 2007. I’ve no idea why you guys are so bundled up," Nasa TV Red and Yellow Hard Empty Gelatin Capsules reported Kelly as saying as he sat upright in a chair on the steppe in temperatures just below zero degrees Celsius.
Their flight sets a record for the space station and for the longest US space mission.In their nearly year-long stay in space, Kelly (52) and Kornienko (55) have been the subjects of dozens of medical experiments and science studies trying to learn more about how the human body adjusts to weightlessness and the high-radiation environment of space. In his year aboard the sp-ace station, Kelly has been an avid Internet poster capturing stunning views on his Instagram page and tweeting regularly to nearly a million followers.The International Space Stationis a joint project of the US, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada.Expedition 46 commander Scott Kelly of Nasa rests in a chair outside the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft just minutes after he and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov landed in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday.26 am local time (2326 GMT), about three-and-a-half hours after departing the station.A Soyuz capsule carrying Kelly, Kornienko and Sergey Volkov, another Russian cosmonaut, made a parachute landing on the steppe near the Kazakh city of Zhezkazgan at 10."Kelly and his identical twin brother Mark, a former Nasa astronaut, are also participating in genetic studies, the first to assess if genetic changes occur during long spaceflights..Kelly, extracted next, waved his hand energetically and smiled before beginning a satellite telephone conversation