(HOUSTON) — Astronaut Scott Kelly arrived in Houston early Thursday morning where he was reunited with his family after a whirlwind year-long mission in space.
Waiting for Kelly, 52, in Houston were his two daughters and girlfriend, along with his identical twin brother, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and his sister-in-law, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Jill Biden was on hand to welcome Kelly home after his historic year in space.
Kelly spoke briefly after arriving, “It’s great to be back in Texas, on U.S. soil. It’s just an unbelievable feeling to be back here on planet earth, back in our great country, and back with all my family and friends.”
He also paid tribute to his crew and colleagues, “I also want to say this was not my flight. They’ve talked about my year in space, it’s not my achievement, it’s NASA’s achievement and it’s our country’s achievement,” he said.
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) March 2, 2016
Jill Biden also took time to welcome Scott back, “On behalf of President Obama, our First Lady Michelle Obama, our Vice President my husband and all Americans, I want to congratulate you on your year in space and you truly are an inspiration to all of us.”
She finished her remarks by noting she had bought him some welcome back gifts, “I brought you some beer and apple pie, nothing’s more American than that…The beer is from the president actually. And the apple pie is just from all Americans. So we hold you in our hearts. Welcome home.”
During his final news conference from space last week, Kelly said NASA will put him through a battery of tests as soon as he returns to measure any changes in his health.
The tests conducted include a vision check, since a micro-gravity environment can put pressure on an astronaut’s optic nerves. NASA will also look at Kelly’s physical health, including his bone density, muscles and cardiovascular system. He’ll also be asked to complete tasks testing his motor skills and assessing his psychological state.
The one-year mission was designed to help NASA better understand what happens to an astronaut’s physical and mental health during a prolonged stay in a micro-gravity environment. Kelly’s results will be compared with those of his identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, who served as the control subject on Earth.
After Kelly’s initial testing is complete, he told reporters last week the one thing he wanted to do most back on Earth.
“I’m going to go home and jump in my pool,” he said.
Welcome back to Earth, @StationCDRKelly! Your year in space is vital to the future of American space travel. Hope gravity isn’t a drag!
— President Obama (@POTUS) March 2, 2016
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