Hello Reddit! My name is Scott Kelly. I am a former NASA astronaut who spent a year living aboard the International Space Station: the first American to spend a nearly whole year in space continuously and the record-holder for longest duration in space by an American. I wrote a book, Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery, about that record breaking year and how I got there—and it hits shelves tomorrow.

I'm ready to answer questions about my year in space, my experiences with NASA, writing a book, and more. Here's proof: https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly/status/919937532032196609

https://youtu.be/cQC4hIsn4Ow

What happens when you cry in space? Space gorilla explains! What else do you want to know about? Ask me Anything now!

EDIT: Thank you everyone for your questions. I'm taking off now, but I really enjoyed talking with you all.

Comments: 1650 • Responses: 86  • Date: 

Theocletian1585 karma

What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have about astronauts?

StationCDRKelly4233 karma

That they were always the smartest kid in the class, and I was not.

WardAgainstNewbs1396 karma

Based on your time in space, what do you see as being the primary challenge of extended human spaceflight missions outside of Earth's orbit?

StationCDRKelly2936 karma

Funding.

michaelmiltonisacunt1389 karma

Was it strange to be back on earth with earth smells and earth people?

StationCDRKelly2951 karma

Yes, it was strange, including the smelly earth people.

IntlTasteStation1332 karma

How long does it take to get used to looking at Earth and realizing you're not on it? What does it feel like looking at Earth?

StationCDRKelly2622 karma

Instantly. You just had the ride of your life, and you know you are not on Earth anymore.

It's inspiring.

edscouse1128 karma

Thanks for your time in doing this. My question is, What does the ISS smell like? Are there ever any issues regarding smells? and if so how do you go about solving them? Cheers!

StationCDRKelly2172 karma

We store our garbage on board for a long period of time, so sometimes it can get smelly. In general, though, it's not an unpleasant smell on board. Space itself has a very unique smell, kind of like burning metal.

ripoffcandydate944 karma

How do you know how space smells like?

StationCDRKelly2945 karma

When a volume was previously at vacuum, like after a space walk or a resupply ship arriving, when you open the hatch you can smell it.

Sip_py1096 karma

Do you give your brother a hard time for being an "old man" compared to you?

StationCDRKelly2211 karma

No. But thanks for the idea, I will start.

thereisnocenter934 karma

The graph of human health vs prolonged exposure to gravity level only has two data points: one at microgravity and one at 1 gravity. Do you think even small amounts of gravity would help greatly offset the negative health effects of microgravity? For example, would astronauts on the Moon (in 1/6 gravity) fare much better than ISS astronauts do?

StationCDRKelly1157 karma

I think you definitely have got something there. And that would make a great experiment. The Japanese had some fish they were experimenting on at various levels of gravity below 1g.

Euchre921 karma

Hello! Thanks for doing this!

Considering your total 520 days in space, do you consciously ever feel any differences in your body or health as a result?

Do you ever dream you are back in a weightless environment, and how realistic are those dreams?

StationCDRKelly1456 karma

I don't feel any differences now. Took about 8 months to feel back to normal. I rarely have a dream about space, unless I'm in space.

Euchre560 karma

Took about 8 months to feel back to normal.

That's actually an amazingly long recovery time. How did it compare to your time adapting to life in space?

StationCDRKelly888 karma

I never felt like I was completely adapted to life in space, but the transition to space to me is easier than the transition back.

IntlTasteStation823 karma

What beverage options does one have on hand on the ISS? Did you miss any foods/snacks?

StationCDRKelly1390 karma

We have a lot of juices and coffee and tea. And something that's similar to Kool-Aid.

Do I miss any food/snacks? from space? no.

gshirodkar803 karma

What was your first meal upon returning back to earth?

StationCDRKelly1531 karma

A salad.

Redead_Link725 karma

What are your thoughts on private corporations like SpaceX and BlueOrigin? Also what are your thoughts on rocket reusability and why NASA aren't focused on it. Thanks :)

StationCDRKelly1492 karma

I think SpaceX and BlueOrigin and other private companies are doing great work.

I don't know why NASA doesn't focus on reusability. It seems SpaceX has proven it's possible.

SwGustav388 karma

Have you seen SpaceX's recent Mars architecture update? Any thoughts or opinions? Would you go to Mars in BFR if given chance? (not permanently)

StationCDRKelly850 karma

I have not, but I will take a look soon.

Yes, I would go to Mars on the BFR, assuming it works.

Sheepy12321536 karma

What is the scariest experience that you had in space or in the atmosphere?

StationCDRKelly1326 karma

That's a tough question. The worst time was when my sister-in-law was shot, and I was halfway through a six month flight.

trpov528 karma

Did you socialize much with the Russians on the station? Does it feel like one team or more like 2 separate teams in different parts of the ISS?

StationCDRKelly878 karma

Yes, all the time. They are great friends. But sometimes it seems like we're working on two different space stations, because there are two halves.

IntlTasteStation502 karma

How does one clean the ISS?

StationCDRKelly698 karma

We have a vacuum we use to clean the filters, and then we have something similar to a wet wipe that we use to clean everything else.

IntlTasteStation502 karma

How far away are we from artificial gravity?

StationCDRKelly1086 karma

It's all about money. Money can solve a lot of problems, including this one.

a0mars02484 karma

I'm an engineer at SpaceX. Would you ever consider making the one way trip to Mars?

StationCDRKelly820 karma

Absolutely not. I would need the return ticket. Would you?

StationCDRKelly470 karma

https://youtu.be/cQC4hIsn4Ow

What happens when you cry in space? Space gorilla explains! What else do you want to know about? Ask me Anything now!

nanniej465 karma

I was a child when man took its first step on the moon. It was such a huge event! At that time, it was life-changing. I’d love to see NASA’s funding upped. So many innovations and milestones came from our space program. Thinking about it is immensely huge. You’ve spent a record time in space, another huge event. What kept you going?

StationCDRKelly957 karma

My belief in our mission. And the fact that I couldn't come home, so I had no choice.

Overlord_Odin443 karma

There's been more talk recently about the US returning to the Moon. What are your thoughts on this? Should we be keeping our sights on Mars? Or do you think the Moon would be a useful stepping stone?

StationCDRKelly1017 karma

In a perfect world, the Moon is a great place to learn and practice for going to Mars. But with limited funding, maybe directly to Mars is a better choice.

MightyMrFish427 karma

If you're allowed to elaborate on them, what sort of projects did you do while in space?

StationCDRKelly663 karma

Over 400 different experiments in all different scientific disciplines.

TKDMan08372 karma

How often did you use the ham/amateur radio on-board the station?

If you did, where was the most rural location you talked too?

StationCDRKelly831 karma

I didn't have a ham radio license, so the ham radio guy wouldn't let me use the radio.

ripoffcandydate325 karma

Hi Scott, thanks for the AMA.

How was getting used to life back on earth after one year aboard the ISS? What was something you had to "learn" again?

StationCDRKelly591 karma

Took me about 8 months to feel completely back to normal. The one thing I had to learn again was how to control my daily schedule and decide what I was going to do.

puzm315 karma

Was there any „boring“ time?

StationCDRKelly607 karma

Never bored. too much to do.

Zilla67293 karma

Hello Scott, what were you most looking forward to the very FIRST time you were going to space?

StationCDRKelly562 karma

The first two minutes and ten seconds, riding on the solid rocket motors.

Teristella287 karma

NASA astronauts have been using the Soyuz to travel to the ISS and hopefully will be able to transition to the SpaceX Dragon in coming years. Do you foresee NASA's SLS program coming to fruition or is cooperation with the private sector the new future of space travel?

Tracking for my of signed copy of your book says it's out for delivery! I look forward to that when I get home today. Saw you speak in Gainesville, FL last year and greatly enjoyed it.

StationCDRKelly360 karma

To the low earth orbit, it will be private companies—non-government companies. I hope the SLS program continues. NASA's often challenged when we change administrations, they sometimes change our plans.

Enjoy the book!

DoctorWhoops284 karma

What are the biggest general misconceptions surrounding space travel and/or living in space?

StationCDRKelly580 karma

That you get to space by launching straight up. You get to space by going really fast and getting out of the atmosphere, which causes us to fly a much lower trajectory than you might think.

travass272 karma

I’ve often wondered if astronauts get nervous spending so much time living in the ISS? I mean you’re there for extended periods of time in this amazing structure with so many moving parts and to me it seems like there is so much that could go wrong at any given time, all while looking down on earth.

Thanks for doing good this, I can’t wait to read your book. People have been living up there for a long time now and that’s amazing and I don’t think it gets talked about enough.

StationCDRKelly605 karma

Any nervousness, if you want to call it that, for me, was always associated with the bad stuff that can happen to the people you care about on Earth.

Vade_Ulterior257 karma

Assuming being in space for a year was similar to a military deployment, upon coming home, did you ever miss the rhythm of being in space? Were there any mental challenges to being fully independent again? Thanks for bringing science down to our level both during, and after your NASA career.

StationCDRKelly320 karma

Yes, and yes. Very good questions. A lot of similarities to military deployment.

theghostpenis254 karma

When someone says they would "have sex with an alien", aren't they just saying they would "have sex with an animal from a different planet"?

StationCDRKelly334 karma

Seems logical, I guess.

DDT556249 karma

I saw the picture and thought, “What’s Phil Collins got going on?”

StationCDRKelly483 karma

Sussudio

PrestigeMaster248 karma

Did you feel “smarter” once you got back on earth? The same way pilots say flying opens their mind a bit.

StationCDRKelly673 karma

You definitely have a different perspective when you've spent time in space, and some people refer to this as the orbital perspective: a sense of being more empathetic to the environment and the human condition.

Hoopasaurus246 karma

How bad is the satellite pollution around the earth from up there? Do you see any projects or initiatives to clear it out?

StationCDRKelly384 karma

There's a lot of space junk up there, but you don't see it. There are initiatives to clean it, but that will be a challenge.

meggieb83237 karma

What is your favorite space themed movie and/or tv series?

StationCDRKelly640 karma

Apollo 13 and The Martian. I used to watch the old school Star Trek.

Ente69234 karma

How many hours did you spend working on average?

Greetings from Germany!

StationCDRKelly368 karma

I would say 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.

meggieb83204 karma

How are you liking retirement?

StationCDRKelly414 karma

My retirement does not consist of golf, unfortunately. I'm busier now than I've ever been.

wayne_dixon_182 karma

Can you describe what it was like to go on your first space walk?

StationCDRKelly388 karma

Surreal. Crazy. Type two kind of fun. Fun when it's done.

frugalmonstet65170 karma

What would you say is the best food you had during all your time on the ISS?

StationCDRKelly292 karma

The granola with milk was my favorite.

GalacticaViper167 karma

Maybe this is a ELI5 but, does gravity affect your digestion up there? I imagine there's a lot of reflux going on.

Thanks for doing this! I love following the ISS feed.

StationCDRKelly280 karma

Gravity is critical to our digestive system. Eventually, you sort of get used to it.

hungyhippolyta163 karma

Hi Scott! You're awesome. I was wondering, did you have any free time while on a mission in space? Did you get days off? What did you do with them? What was your favorite activity while in space?

StationCDRKelly345 karma

A couple hours every evening, and one day on the weekend. I liked taking pictures of the Earth. It's very beautiful.

HipSlickANDSick161 karma

Hey Scott! I read a few days ago that your body is having a readjustment period after coming home. I thought it'd be terrifying to know something is going on with your body and no doctor on earth could really help. What's the worst part of the readjustment and are you feeling better?

StationCDRKelly284 karma

I'm feeling much better, and we have great medical care. Our doctors were right there along with me, if I needed them. The worst part was the swelling in my legs. That was the most disturbing.

neotahiro155 karma

What should I do to become an astronaut?

StationCDRKelly310 karma

NASA has minimum qualifications you can find on a website. So, being in one of those fields would be necessary to be a NASA astronaut. And then doing well in that field.

StationCDRKelly3 karma

NASA has minimum qualifications you can find on a website. So, being in one of those fields would be necessary to be a NASA astronaut. And then doing well in that field.

MissRhino146 karma

Are you a fan of GOT and if so were you able to keep up while in space?

StationCDRKelly478 karma

I wasn't until I got to space and binge watched the whole series twice.

GalacticaViper142 karma

What are your dreams for the space program in general?

How about one for the near future and one for a couple hundred years down the line?

StationCDRKelly431 karma

My dream would be for the government to allow NASA to continue on a single course and not change plans every 4-8 years. Long term, I think we should have an outpost on Mars and other places in the solar system.

nkleszcz140 karma

Hello Scott, thanks for doing this.

I am curious: What does a weightless exercise regime look like?

StationCDRKelly267 karma

We have a resistive exercise machine that mimics weight very well. We have a treadmill and a stationary bicycle. And we exercise every day...well, I exercised six days a week.

shooooosh139 karma

How truly, utterly, indescribably awesome is space? Like on a scale from one to ten.

StationCDRKelly286 karma

It's an eleven!

Acirii138 karma

How often would you do space walks? Was there always something to fix up there while you did them? Thanks!

StationCDRKelly263 karma

The frequency of space walks vary. I did three in the span of a couple of months. My previous flight, I was there for six months and didn't do any. And yeah, there's almost always something to fix.

OhNoCosmo124 karma

Hello! Thanks for doing this AMA! As a person who is terrified of catching every airborne illness on a plain old domestic flight, I'm curious as to whether there is some sort of long-term quarantine process before heading off to the ISS for virus incubation periods to expire? If not, how do you guys avoid getting sick? Or is it just a matter of accepting you're all in this together, cooties and all?

StationCDRKelly174 karma

Yes, generally a week to ten days. Works most of the time. There have been cases of people, though, carrying the cold virus to space.

IntlTasteStation123 karma

You've mentioned space has a smell, does it have a sound?

StationCDRKelly648 karma

No. In space, no one can hear you scream.

IntlTasteStation87 karma

Oh, I just thought there might be solar winds or debris or something.

StationCDRKelly288 karma

A lot of debris out there, but in space there's no medium for sound waves to travel.

okay_then_104 karma

What's your favourite sandwich to make?

StationCDRKelly343 karma

I don't make sandwiches, I only eat them. Anything from a New York deli.

Yaselyau2795 karma

Did u really grow 2 inches? Can u come again to DC after Nov? I will be in military training and I will miss you!

StationCDRKelly241 karma

I stretched an inch and a half. And upon returning to Earth, I instantly scrunched back down to my normal height of 6 foot 7.

ivleaf89 karma

Scott, were you able to share recovery stories with Misha Kornienko? Was your recovery similar to his?

StationCDRKelly99 karma

Not much. I think his reaction to gravity on return was similar to what I experienced.

nanniej88 karma

How has your space experience changed your outlook/beliefs in life?

StationCDRKelly320 karma

Having a good understanding of the size of the universe, I find it hard to believe there's not life out there. Having said that, I don't think the aliens stopped visiting Earth once everyone got a camera in their pocket.

pauliesfreakin88 karma

Sir, thank you so much for being such a great role model for children and representative for America on an international scale.

Where is the best place in the world to view space, in the way that space is viewed while in it? How much do you believe space travel will increase in the decades to come? Finally, what’s the most unexpected thing on Earth that brought you joy upon your return?

StationCDRKelly214 karma

A really dark place with no pollution. I think we are on the cusp of some pretty exciting advances in space travel. The first dog I saw was the most unexpected thing.

watch7maker87 karma

Okay first, have you ever been completely alone up in space or is someone always up there with you?

If you have been completely alone, for how long and how did it feel?

And if you haven't, are the few people that are up there with you enough to not make you feel lonely?

StationCDRKelly158 karma

Never alone. Correct, I've never been lonely. I was up there, at one point, for six weeks with two cosmonauts, and it was absolutely fine.

jsally1782 karma

Hi Scott, thank you for your dedication to world-changing research. We need more people like you.

What are the top physiological and psychological issues you foresee space travellers facing as we take longer and more extended trips into space and to Mars?

StationCDRKelly153 karma

Physiological—radiation damage. Psychological—prolonged confinement.

FyonFyon82 karma

Hi Scott, I wondered what happens when/after you have to sneeze inside the space station? Also, thanks for your great contribution to mankind!

StationCDRKelly222 karma

Well if you don't cover your sneeze-hole, something's going to travel for miles and miles and miles.

spacefan9678 karma

Hi scott, thanks for doing this.

My question was originally in Interstellar, but do you ever think about how you are a few feet away from nothing? Do you ever feel trapped?

StationCDRKelly142 karma

No, I never felt claustrophobic or anything. But you do feel detached from Earth and realize you're not coming back any time soon.

SickBearBro77 karma

Did you see anything strange up there? Like UFOs.

StationCDRKelly190 karma

No. However, sometimes stars or even space junk as it passes through the horizon, the atmosphere can make it look suspicious.

adityakalway77 karma

Being in Micro Gravity ... Wearing a Full Fledged Space Suit, How much weight can you actually notice/feel of the suit?

StationCDRKelly135 karma

You can notice the mass when you try to move or stop.

IntlTasteStation72 karma

I've spoken to him about this as well, but how did you pull off getting a phone call/song from John McDermott? Did you have many other famous callers?

StationCDRKelly182 karma

He's a friend of a friend, and it was great having him sing for us in space.

I didn't have many other famous callers. Bryan Cranston and Vince Gilligan were two folks I talked to on this mission.

Aiyokaka65 karma

Any chance for someone living in a country with no plans for space exploration be in the space industry?

StationCDRKelly103 karma

Absolutely. There's a lot of opportunity out there, even if your country does not currently have a space program.

NoFunHere62 karma

Hello!

Are you aware of the new supercomputer installed on the ISS? Do you have any opinion on this upgrade/experiment and how would better computing have helped you during your time on the ISS?

StationCDRKelly79 karma

I am not familiar with that, but I will look into it.

wpokcnumber460 karma

What are your interests now? Would you ever consider working for an organization like The Planetary Society? Or work for a private company like SpaceX?

StationCDRKelly114 karma

I spend a lot of time doing public speaking, and I just wrote a book which was a lot of work. I hope, when it comes out tomorrow, people will like it. yes, I would consider all of those things.

kwxt257 karma

Hi Scott,

Thanks for doing this AMA. How was it emotionally and mentally to be away from earth for that length of time? Was it considerably different than your previous experiences in space?

StationCDRKelly78 karma

It was different, because it was over twice as long. But I think I was well prepared for it. But it was still a challenge.

kid_tiger55 karma

What star constellation is now your favorite to look at after being in space for so long?

StationCDRKelly244 karma

It's a toss up between Orion the Hunter and the Big Dipper, because those are the only two I know.

cloudcity54 karma

Are dreams any different in space?

StationCDRKelly119 karma

I wrote down a lot of my dreams, and I have them in my book, which comes out tomorrow! Definitely vivid space dreams that I don't really have on Earth.

hehyih54 karma

What did you miss the most about gravity while in orbit?

StationCDRKelly176 karma

The fact that it holds everything down.

churchilling47 karma

What were your responsibilities during take-off and landing?

StationCDRKelly137 karma

On the space shuttle, I was the pilot and then the commander. So a lot of responsibilities for operating the vehicle. On the Soyuz, I was more like the copilot to the copilot—a glorified passenger.

ogbobrista45 karma

Does being up there give you any kind of emotion that most of us will never understand? Like a euphoria sort of feeling? Anything simply unexplainable?

StationCDRKelly78 karma

I would say that orbital perspective I talked about in one of the previous questions is what most astronauts experience.

Yaselyau2742 karma

Awesome video about what happen when u cry in space, did u got scare up there?

StationCDRKelly57 karma

No. Nor did I cry.

KaiGumOi41 karma

Hi Scott! So from everything I've read astronauts go through extensive training for years, were there any times when you found yourself without any training on how to handle something or unprepared for what was going on?

StationCDRKelly73 karma

No. Most cases, I felt over-prepared.

adityakalway35 karma

Hello Mr. Kelly, You're an inspiration for me and my science career!

What would be the one thing during your year in space that Gave you An "Aw" moment, anything which you never imagined to see or happen?

Thanks!

StationCDRKelly73 karma

The whole thing is a big "aw" moment. Just absolutely incredible.

captinepicfail134 karma

What planet is most interesting to you? And how hard is it to be an astronaut or a person who gets to go to space?

StationCDRKelly67 karma

Earth.

wayne_dixon_25 karma

Thank you again so much for doing this!

I know funding is one of the big issue with this, but do you see us or any country at some point in the near future putting a space station on the moon to make interplanetary travel easier since the amount of fuel to take off from the moon would be incredibly less than the amount used to take off from Earth?

StationCDRKelly36 karma

Technically, that's possible. But we are often constrained by our budget, so I don't see that happening in the near future, if by near you mean in the next few years.

firebreathingbadger14 karma

Hi Scott - what was the thing you found most difficult in your training to go space? Thanks!

StationCDRKelly31 karma

Jetlag. We train in a bunch of different countries, and, unlike when you're on vacation, you can't sleep in.

IntlTasteStation9 karma

To the naked eye, do the other planets look noticeably bigger/closer than they do from the ground? Or is it still a squint and telescope affair?

StationCDRKelly29 karma

We are not much closer. The space station is at 250 miles, so they don't seem bigger. But without the atmosphere, they definitely are brighter.

trpov5 karma

How long did it take you to fell "normal" after you landed (like you felt before going to space)?

StationCDRKelly7 karma

About 8 months. Back to almost normal in about 2 months.

IntlTasteStation2 karma

I'm sure it's taboo, but you only live once, so... did you ever see anything up there that made you think we here on Earth aren't the only game in town?

StationCDRKelly2 karma

See my previous answer.