Traveling into Space

International Space Stn and Planet Earth

International Space Stn and Planet Earth

Earthlings celebrated a remarkable milestone this month:  two astronauts returned safely to earth after spending an entire year in space.


They resided at the International Space Station (ISS), a microgravity laboratory in space.


Astronaut Scott Kelly aboard the International Space Stn, 2016

Astronaut Scott Kelly aboard the International Space Stn, 2016

American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko returned to earth on March 1, 2016.  It was the longest ever continued episode in space.



ISS during Aurora borealis

ISS during Aurora Borealis

In the course of their year on ISS, Kelly and Kornienko were joined by 13 astronauts representing seven different nations.  They performed three spacewalks for various tasks of station upgrade and maintenance.


More info here about their year in space.


Crews of men and women from numerous countries have occupied this station since November of 2000.  Often it is a crew of six who live and work here for months at a time.


Coleman discussing Astronaut Coleman describing the robotic arm she operated on ISS at NASA, Houston

Astronaut Coleman describing the robotic arm she operated on ISS; NASA, Houston

The International Space Station is 357 feet (108m) long, about the size of a football field.  It weighs almost one million pounds, about the equivalent of 320 cars.


ISS interior

ISS interior



It travels at five miles per second and orbits the earth every 90 minutes.


In some places on earth we can see the ISS in the sky, apparently it looks like a very fast airplane or bright star.  Click here to learn if you can spot the ISS from where you live.


Our local PBS station televised “Year in Space” and many of the photos here were captured from our television.  (The other photos are from a NASA tour I enjoyed in 2014.)  This program is a collaboration between PBS and Time, and is a two-part series; the second part will air in 2017.  More program info here.


ISS over Earth

ISS over Earth

For images from space taken by Scott Kelly click here.  Take a look at our amazing planet, captured from above.


Foods served on the ISS. Courtesy Wikipedia

ISS residents get fresh food only when new supplies arrive.  This, as you can imagine, is a big deal.


On the one year mission there was some food rationing that occurred when two consecutive ships carrying supplies met with disaster.  But the third try, a spaceship launched from Japan, was a success.  It safely arrived with 4.5 tons of supplies.


NASA Houston, Mission Control Center

NASA Houston, Mission Control Center

Kelly described the smell of space as “burning metal.”


There is an enormous physical impact that the human body endures in space.  Extended weightlessness and increased radiation (to name a few) can cause many health problems for individuals who have lived in space. More info here.


Although there have been extensive studies done on the health hazards over the years, a unique aspect of Astronaut Scott Kelly’s year in space will be to follow the effects of his body in comparison to his identical twin brother’s body, Mark Kelly, a now-retired astronaut.


When it was time to return to earth, Kelly said entering Earth’s orbit was “like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel while you’re on fire.”


NASA Training Ctr, Houston

NASA Training Ctr, Houston

I am happy to live on earth and spend every glorious day here.  But I find it a fascinating exploration and am grateful to our space pioneers.



Photo credit:  Athena Alexander except where noted

Statistics from

NASA Space Suit, Houston

NASA Space Suit, Houston


61 thoughts on “Traveling into Space

  1. Such remarkable accomplishments. I recently saw the move The Martian and I asked my husband if he thought it was too overdone. He looked at me like I might be a space alien and reminded me that not so many decades ago achievements in space such as these would have been given the same skepticism. Fair enough.

    • I saw that remarkable movie too, Sue; and enjoyed your story here. So many professionals in the aeronautics industry have quietly and steadily been building this industry, and it is amazing. So glad to hear from you. I wonder if you’re in Australia as we “speak” and will go visit your blog to find out. Thanks so much. 🙂

  2. I am, and forever will be, in awe of all things “space” related. It’s something that never ceases to amaze me, especially the dedication of those “to go where no man has gone before” in spite of the risks. So very, VERY courageous!

  3. Pioneering is a risky business, in space this risk is tenfold. The astronauts are very brave and believe in their science. I admire them and tip my hat to these heroes! Thanks Jet for the great post. 🙂

    • And speaking of tenfold…I read that the radiation in space is ten times more that in our atmosphere. They were exposed to that for a year. It is indeed a risky business, and I agree with you, HJ — very brave heroes they are. I’m happy you enjoyed the post, HJ, and appreciate your visit.

  4. This was great! I’m always bowled over by the tenacity and pioneering spirit of all those connected to the space program – and I particularly enjoy witnessing countries figuring out ways to cooperate, especially when they seem to struggle with that down here. Wonderful post!

  5. Can’t even imagine the courage, physical/ mental strengths, combining with their knowledge and required skills… to accomplish this extraordinary mission!!

  6. Good morning, Jet. In theory I would love to go to space, however, in practise I am not so sure:) I think you have to be very brave to do this. I was reading about the two who had stayed in space for a year, and how it has had a huge effect on their bodies….losing a great deal of body mass and even inches form their height. However, thanks to these brave people, we know so much more, and isn’t it wonderful to see our magnificent planet from such a different point of view.
    Wishing you a lovely day…and thank you for this post. Janet.

    • I agree with you on all points here, Janet. The physical toll on their bodies with weightlessness and advanced radiation (for a whole year) is brutal. They are definitely donating some of their precious years of life to the science. But we are lucky for their courage and strength, and their great photos, too. I’m glad you enjoyed this vicarious trip and maintained your original height, Janet. 🙂

    • No, I have not spotted it yet. But we’ve had nights of thick fog for many weeks. I have an app called “Star Walk” that not only tells you the planets, but also man-made structures in the sky. I intend to find that ISS one day soon. Thanks for your great comment and question, Gill. I’m glad you enjoyed the space walk and talk.

      • We are getting clear night skies at the moment so I am excited I might be able to Identify something soon. Thank you so much Jet . I was also intrigued about the heavy metal smell of space. I had no idea about that or had I thought about it, so thank you again! xxxx
        PS. Hope you get some good sightings soon in clearer skies!.

  7. Love things to do with space. My dad worked as a programmer for NASA after the Navy. We were in Kentucky watching the Apollo 15 lunar landing in 1971. The lovely country folks we were with didn’t believe any of it was real.

    • Oh Sherry, this is a good comment. I think much of the NASA programs are under appreciated, and your comment goes a long way toward explanation. I applaud your dad and all the dedicated NASA professionals and enthusiasts. Thanks so much.

  8. I was at the Kennedy space centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida early this year. There was so much to learn from there and i got to see ATLANTIS space shuttle too – it was such a heartening experience!

  9. Lovely post; very thoroughly researched and explained. And oh, what a joy it is to remember the tour of NASA with you and Athena and Cady!

    • We were so lucky to have our own personal tour, weren’t we? Absolutely fascinating to spend a few hours with a NASA astronaut. I’m glad it brought back joyous memories, Nan.

    • It’s changed so much in some ways, since the 1950s, but not in others. It is still as bold and innovative and adventurous as it always was. Just more technologically sophisticated. Thank you Inese.

  10. Oh no way, you would never find me an astronaut much less be in space for one year. Oh wow!! And space smells like burning metal? I wonder why? Strange. You would think there would be no smell at all. And then to experience the re-entry …. oh man oh man oh man. I am happy just to stay within gravity on earth’s plane, thank you!!! Great post, Jet! I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you! ❤

  11. Great post with oodles of info, Jet, thanks for sharing! Since age 10, my son grew up wanting to be an astronaut, so as a mom, I lived and breathed everything space with him. We sent him to NASA space camp in 8th grade to take the adult camp (he was that smart with space stuff) and he thoroughly loved it; he followed that with getting very involved with rocketry through certified rocket clubs. (I was his weekend chauffeur to rocket launch sites which were actually pretty cool!) He went on to get a Masters in Aerospace Engineering and is now a high performance rocket scientist contracted with the Navy. He’s now in his mid-30’s with a family, and I know he would still love to train and go into space (although his wife might think otherwise). Although I was petrified he might one day do so, I was also in awe and proud of his fearlessness and ambition of wanting to go where no man has gone before. He may never get his opportunity because of so many other great opportunities that have happened already with his career and career-path, but I know that that little boy who started with little bottle rockets is now living a dream to be involved with space exploration and our government protection program. I am so proud of him! (as if you can’t already tell!) 🙂

    • I love this story, Donna, and the dedication, drive, and devotion of your family to encourage your son to follow his dreams; and what it took to create a rocket scientist. You have a lot to be proud of. I always appreciate an inspiring success story — thank you so very much. 🙂

  12. An exciting space trip through your brilliant post,dear Jet,and a great tribute to all heroes up there.Your TV photos are incredibly captured,they look so authentic.I closely followed Scott Kelly & Chris Hadfield on Twitter and gladly R/Ted most of their Earth photos and especially the ones of my country with their greetings and their praiseful words underneath.There was also a link that we could join and watch them live,floating in the cabin while eating or relaxing.It was fun.I think the link still exists and we can watch them when they log in.Thank you for this wonderful space journey,dear friend 🙂 hugs & sunshine for the day ☀️☀️☀️ /” ♥

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