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Retired F-14 Tomcat pilot gears up for year in space

Retired F-14 Tomcat pilot gears up for year in space

At the end of March, a retired naval aviator will embark on the longest mission ever assigned to a NASA astronaut: a year in space.

Retired Capt. Scott Kelly, an F-14 Tomcat pilot with more than 250 carrier landings, is scheduled to depart March 27 to begin his year-long stint in the International Space Station. It will be his third trip to the ISS.

Kelly retired in 2012 with 8,000 flight hours though, as he noted: “some of those hours I was asleep on the International Space Station, but I was flying so I count them.”

In a Jan. 17 interview with Navy Times, Kelly said he is preparing for his year away from earth by taking care of things that might seem, well, mundane. Those things include making sure his electricity bill gets paid, the yard work gets done and that his daughter in college has the support she needs while he’s in low-earth orbit.

“I have a guy who does the front lawn, but I usually take care of the weeds in the back,” Kelly said. “I have to make sure he knows to take care of that while I’m away. Those are the kinds of things I’m thinking about.”

Kelly, 50, said that mental preparation is going to be important because, from past experience, fatigue and stress begin to wear on astronauts in the ISS.

His identical twin, Mark, is also a NASA astronaut and retired Navy captain.

“I will need to have enough [focus and energy] to get through the mission but also have enough in reserve to perform in case of an emergency,” he said.

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