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  • December 26, 2018 4:14 AM EST
    In this Jan. 21 Cheap Leon Hall Jersey , 2016 photo made available by NASA, one-year mission crew members Scott Kelly of NASA, left, and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos celebrate their 300th consecutive day in space. By spending 340 days aboard the International Space Station, the astronauts will help scientists understand what happens to the human body while in microgravity for extreme lengths of time. Kelly is holding a zinnia plant grown in space as part of the Veggie experiment on the International Space Station. (NASA via AP)

    Astronaut Scott Kelly closed the door Tuesday to an unprecedented year in space for NASA, flying back to the planet and loved ones he left behind last March.

     

    NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams Available for Media Interviews before Launch to Space Station PR Newswire

     

    Kelly and his roommate for the past 340 days, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, checked out of the International Space Station on Tuesday night Cheap Frostee Rucker Jersey , U.S. time.

     

    By the time their capsule lands in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, the pair will have traveled 144 million miles through space, circled the world 5,440 times and experienced 10,880 orbital sunrises and sunsets.

     

    Kelly photographed the first five sunrises of his waking day Tuesday, posting the pictures on Twitter, before quipping, "I gotta go!" His final tweet from orbit came several hours later: "The journey isn't over. Follow me as I rediscover #Earth!"

     

    Piloting the Soyuz capsule home for Kelly Cheap Mike Nugent Jersey , 52, and Kornienko, 55, was the much fresher and decade younger cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, whose space station stint lasted the typical six months.

     

    Kelly was the first one into the docked Soyuz capsule after a round of hugs and handshakes with the three crewmen staying behind. Kornienko reached out and patted the inside of the station before the hatches swung shut. A few hours later, the Soyuz undocked and aimed for the barren steppes of Kazakhstan as calls of "Godspeed" filled the Twitterverse.

     

    The two yearlong spacemen will undergo a series of medical tests following touchdown. Before committing to even longer Mars missions, NASA wants to know the limits of the human body for a year, minus gravity.

     

    As he relinquished command of the space station Monday Cheap Derek Carrier Jersey , Kelly noted that he and Kornienko "have been up here for a really, really long time" and have been jokingly telling one another, "We did it!" and "We made it!"

     

    "A year now seems longer than I thought it would be," Kelly confided a couple weeks ago.

     

    Not quite a year — 340 days to be precise, based on the Russian launch and landing schedule. But still record-smashing for NASA.

     

    Kelly's closest U.S. contender trails him by 125 days. Russia continues to rule, however, when it comes to long-duration spaceflight. The world record of 438 days was set by a Russian doctor during the mid-1990s.

     

    "A really smart person said to me one time, 'Teamwork makes the dreamwork in spaceflight Cheap Brandon LaFell Jersey ,' and spaceflight is the biggest team sport there is," Kelly said Monday. He acknowledged each of the 13 U.S., Russian, European and Japanese space fliers with whom he and Kornienko lived during the past year. "It's incredibly important that we all work together to make what is seemingly impossible, possible."

     

    For NASA, that mission possible is Mars.

     

    Scientists are hoping for more one-year subjects as NASA gears up for human expeditions to Mars in the 2030s. Radiation will be a top challenge, along with the body and mind's durability on what will be a 2?-year journey round trip.

     

    The choice of the pioneering Kelly turned out to be a bonanza. His identical twin, retired astronaut Mark Kelly Cheap Jordy Nelson Jersey , offered himself up as a medical guinea pig so researchers could study the differences between the genetic doubles, one in space and the other on the ground. They provided blood, saliva and urine samples, underwent ultrasounds and bone scans, got flu shots and more, all in the name of science.

     

    Once on the ground, Kelly and Kornienko split. Kelly heads to Houston with two flight surgeons and several other NASA reps, arriving late Wednesday night. That's where he'll be reunited with his two daughters Cheap Gareon Conley Jersey , ages 21 and 12; his girlfriend, a NASA public affairs representative at Johnson Space Center; and his brother. Kornienko returns to his home in Star City, Russia, near Moscow, his wife, daughter and toddler grandson.

     

    View galleryIn this undated photo provided by NASA on Tuesday, …

     

    In this undated photo provided by NASA on Tuesday, March 1 Cheap Johnny Townsend Jersey , 2016, astronaut Scott Kelly looks out th …

     

    Kelly has spent more time in space, altogether, than any other American: 520 days over the course of four missions. Realizing this is likely his last journey, it was "a little bittersweet" saying goodbye to his orbiting home. He'll have plenty of pictures, at least, for the scrapbook — he posted 1,000 dramatic Cheap P.J. Hall Jersey , color-drenched pictures of Earth on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

     

    "What a ride he took us on!" fellow astronaut Reid Wiseman said in a tweet from Earth.

     

    "Those of us who dream of sending astronauts to deep space thank Scott Kelly for his sacrifice," said Jim Green, director of planetary science for NASA, "and are thrilled to welcome him home."

     

    BEIJING, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- China on Monday strongly condemned a suicide car bombing in the Afghan capital of Kabul that killed at least 103 people and injured more than 230.

     

    "China extends its condolences to those killed, and conveys sincere sympathy for the injured and families of victims," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing.

     

    Terrorists blew up an ambulance filled with explosives in central Kabul Saturday afternoon in the deadliest attack in months.

     

    The attack, which was claimed by the Taliban Cheap Kolton Miller Jersey , followed an assault by Taliban militants on a luxury hotel in Kabul a week ago, which killed 22 people.

     

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