Page 3 Profile: Scott and Mark Kelly, astronauts

 

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The Independent Online

Are they auditioning to be the new Chuckle brothers?

Behave, this is serious stuff. Romulus and Remus may have founded Rome but Scott and Mark could soon wrestle the Most Historically Significant Offspring From A Split Egg award from them, going where no twins have gone before.

Are they going into space together?

Yes. Well, almost. Scott is set to embark on a one-year stint aboard the International Space Station. Meanwhile, Mark, a retired astronaut, will remain firmly on the ground, undergoing medical examination by Nasa in a bid to gain insight into the effects of weightlessness on the human body.

Like CompareTheSpaceTwin.com?

Something like that. In monitoring the genetically identical pair, Nasa hope to further understand what floating around outside the earth’s atmosphere does to one’s immune system, gut bacteria, reaction time, DNA, arteries and the like.

Astronaut twins must be a rarer occurrence than Halley’s Comet?

And Nasa aren’t half thankful. “Not only are they the same genetically, but one is an astronaut, one’s a retired astronaut. So they’ve followed very similar career paths,” said Craig Kundrot, deputy chief scientist for the human research programme at Nasa’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “That’s just an uncanny opportunity that we’re taking advantage of.”

He’s up there for a whole year?

Yes. Scott’s stay will see him become an American record-holder; Nasa’s previous longest single human mission lasted just seven months. Eager to explore the furthest realms of medical science, he even offered to have sensors drilled into his skull and a spinal tap inserted.

Nasa said such extremes wouldn’t be necessary, but his dedication was noted.

And Mark?

While undoubtedly equally committed, he draws the line at eating space food: “It’s not bad when you’re in space,” he said, adding that he won’t be found carrying “a can of Russian lamb and potatoes when I’m out to eat with my friends.”

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