Scott Kelly Breaks America’s Record for Most Time in Space

We’ve got a ways to go before we catch up to the Russians.

Although Scott Kelly certainly didn’t need it, he can tick off another accomplishment on an already stellar score sheet.

As of Friday, the U.S. astronaut and badass has spent a total of 383 days in outer space over the course of four missions. That’s more than any other American ever.

He bested former record holder Mike Fincke, whose 382-day record will look downright paltry once Kelly has finished racking up 522 days at the end of his current mission.

To celebrate this marvel of U.S. space exploration, NASA posted to YouTube a rousing video tribute to Kelly’s mission. Naturally, it’s set to Coldplay’s “Speed of Sound.”

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When he’s earthbound again on March 3, Kelly will have set another record. As of October 29, Kelly will have spent 216 consecutive days in space, which is also a record for U.S. astronauts. He’ll have to make lots of room in an already jam-packed trophy case.

America’s spacefaring men and women are nowhere near the Russians, though, whose nonstop Cold War-era need to compete with the U.S. never lets up. International record holder Gennady Padalka has spent a stunning total of 879 days in space. 

Two can play this game, though—with Scott Kelly, we’ve got a trump card. His one-year mission gives NASA the chance to study how the human body responds to long-duration space flights. Scientists are conducting studies on Scott and his identical twin, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and will compare the results to see what kind of changes occur in the bodies of two people with the same DNA when one is on the ground and the other in the ether for such a long stretch of time.

In a press release published Friday, NASA explained why this is key: “Breaking such a record for time in space is important because every additional day helps us better understand how long-duration spaceflight affects bodies and minds, which is critical to advancing NASA’s journey to Mars.”

So, we’ve got a leg up on Russia in the quest for Mars. Thanks Scott!

Photos by AFP via Getty Images