NASA photo of Scott Kelly on the International Space Station during his year in space.
NASA photo of Scott Kelly on the International Space Station during his year in space.

Living in Space, with Scott Kelly

Scott Kelly on the International Space Station during his year in space. Photo Credit: NASA.

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About This Episode

It hurtles above us at 17,500 miles per hour. It orbits the Earth every 90 minutes. Some say it’s the single greatest project ever completed by humanity. And above all of that, it serves as a home for the privileged few. On this episode of StarTalk, Neil deGrasse Tyson sits down with retired astronaut Scott Kelly – who stayed aboard the International Space Station for almost an entire year – to find out what it’s like to live in space. Joining Neil in-studio is comic co-host Sasheer Zamata and retired astronaut Terry Virts. Scott gives us some background on why academic shortcomings don’t necessarily reflect the potential to do something great. We explore why the danger factor of being a test pilot is one of the main reasons that people do it. You’ll hear about “The Right Stuff” and if what makes up that “stuff” has changed over time. Learn why the ability to deal with risk is a key factor in selecting new astronauts. You’ll find out what it’s like to watch space movies, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gravity, and Interstellar, while in space! Learn if Scott or Terry ever got bored while they were on their respective missions. Scott and Terry tell us the things they missed most from Earth during their time in space. You’ll also explore how taste buds change when you’re off-Earth, and what it’s like to sleep in space. We break down the water reclamation system and ask Scott and Terry how it felt to drink water that was recycled urine. Then, we’re joined by Jennifer Fogarty, NASA Human Research Program Chief Scientist, as we answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about the biological challenges of human space flight. Has NASA ever conducted experiments on sex in space? Is it possible to perform open surgery in zero-G? You’ll also find out how the body changes from being in space. And how Scott served as a living science experiment alongside his identical twin (and former astronaut) Mark, who was on the ground during his mission. Scott also shares insight on the psychological challenges of being cooped up for an entire year and why it’s compared to being in prison. All that, plus, we speculate how the world will react the day the International Space Station meets its fiery demise in the Pacific Ocean, and Bill Nye muses on the difficulties of scratching one’s nose in a spacesuit.

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