Hey Space Placers!
We had a wonderful audience of 80-90 at the Peaks of Otter last night listening to my talk on "The Future of U.S. Manned Spaceflight." The sky was so-so but clear enough for us to go outside and see the brighter stars. The tree frogs were LOUD (wonderful!!!) and a lone owl Hoo-Hooed for a magical time.
Next Friday a new 3 person crew will be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) with two of them earmarked to spend a full year on board instead of the usual six months. American Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will provide crucial data with their bodies about what happens to humans in long duration exposure to spaceflight. This will help fill in gaps in our knowledge that will be necessary for making manned flights deep into space.
An added bonus to this knowledge to be gained by this mission is the fact that Scott Kelly has an identical twin, Mark Kelly, that is a retired NASAAstronaut. The ability to compare what happens to Scott's body to his Earth-bound brother 's body will really provide valuable medical and scientific data that would not be available otherwise. I do believe that this identical twin comparison is the first to be done as related to spaceflight. Such studies have been common in medical studies.
To get to Mars and other deep solar system destinations is as much of a challenge, if not more really, from a human perspective as well as a technical one. You have to keep astronauts healthy during their mission as well as the rest of their lives. Radiation exposure, the effects of long term zero-g, and psychological factors are just a few that come to mind.
The On Year-Twin Comparison Mission will go a long way in helping humanity prepare for and complete long term solar system missions.
Sky Guy in VA