A Year in Space
Despite the technological “comforts” of the ISS, a year in space – the longest space mission in American history – has been described as the epitome of extreme, with extraordinarily high physical stakes. Following Scott in space and his identical twin Mark Kelly at home on Earth, the specials will tell the story of what it takes, mentally and physically, to spend a year in space and then, using what NASA has learned from the Kelly brothers, what it means for humanity as we journey to Mars and beyond.
In the Kelly brothers, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a near-perfect, two-person sample group for biomedical research. NASA is closely tracking Scott’s physical and emotional changes, and his biological functions, down to the molecular level while he is in orbit. The agency hopes to identify precisely what changes happened to Scott as a result of 12 months in space by comparing him to his identical twin, Mark, on Earth. What NASA learns about how Scott withstands the physical and psychological difficulties will provide scientists with key data to develop methods of overcoming the challenges of human interplanetary travel.
Viewers will witness the rigors of Scott’s training to live in space for an entire year and will get to know his family and their dreams, stresses, fears and loves. Interwoven into the series’ compelling personal story, A YEAR IN SPACE will also delve into the broader historical context of the mission, including the history of space exploration, the political background of the Russian-US relationship – Scott’s compatriot at the start of the mission is Russian astronaut Mikhail Korniyenk – and the science/engineering conundrums posed by interplanetary space travel.
Beyond a Year in Space
BEYOND A YEAR IN SPACE follows Kelly’s homecoming and long-awaited reunion with his family in Texas after his record-breaking stay in space with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. The film also tracks the extensive medical testing undergone by Scott and his brother and fellow astronaut, Mark Kelly. As identical twins, the brothers presented NASA with the extraordinary opportunity of conducting experiments on two individuals who have the same genetic makeup but spent the year in vastly different environments. The data from the twins study will help NASA determine what it will take for humans to endure long-duration space travel in preparation for a mission to Mars, an unprecedented three-year journey.
Although Scott maintained a rigorous exercise program in space, the physical toll of the voyage is evident upon his return as he suffers from sore muscles, stiff joints, flu-like symptoms, skin sensitivity and inflammation. “Gravity definitely gives you a beat down when you get back,” he said. “My feet still bother me some — I didn’t walk on them for a year!”
BEYOND A YEAR IN SPACE introduces two new astronauts preparing to venture farther than humankind has ever gone: biologist Jessica Meir and former Navy pilot Victor Glover, and provides a behind-the-scenes look at how they are training to go the distance. While first-generation astronauts were mostly “top guns” chosen for their experience in flying untested vehicles, the new generation is a diverse team with a wide variety of backgrounds and skill sets. The film follows Meir and Glover at NASA and at home, exploring their lives as astronauts and as individuals as each expresses what it means to carry on the legacy of the astronauts who came before them.
“When I was backing away from that space station I was reflecting on the fact that we built this space station in low-Earth orbit,” said Kelly. “It’s the size of a football field — a million pounds. I think it’s the hardest thing people have ever done. I feel very strongly that if we can do this, we can do anything. As future explorers, I would say if we decide we want to go to Mars, we can go to Mars.”
Featuring TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger, science journalist Miles O’Brien, NASA scientists, engineers and doctors, and a special appearance by Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell, BEYOND A YEAR IN SPACE provides historical background on space exploration and connects the experiences of the earliest astronauts on manned space flights to those paving the way for the future of space exploration today.
A Year in Space
Watch an extended trailer of A Year in Space, landing Wednesday March 2 at 8/7c.