Expedition 46 comes home! The 340 day mission is over

Expedition 46 crew members Sergey Volkov along with the two super-long-duration crewmembers Scott Kelly and Mikhail Korniyenko have returned to Earth.  Kelly and Korniyenko are now tied for the #4 slot in single spaceflight duration, while Kelly now holds the US record.  All crew are reportedly in good health, and Kelly and Kornienko are both moving around under their own power.  Kelly in particular is part of an unprecedented twin study, comparing the effects on him against the effects on his identical twin brother Mark, who is also an astronaut and who prior to this flight had a similar number of spaceflight hours.  The two brothers will continue to report for testing for the next year or so to track Scott’s body reacclimating to the 1 G environment of Earth’s surface.  One immediate change has been apparent: Scott is (temporarily) the taller of the two — the relief of pressure on his spine for nearly a year has given him a two-inch gain in stature.  This will not last, though, as gravity reasserts itself and squashes his discs back down.

Kelly is not the only one on this crew with an astronaut relative; Soyuz commander Sergey Volkov is the world’s first second-generation space traveller, as his father Alexsandr made three spaceflights, once to Salyut 7 and twice to Mir.  (Since Sergey’s first flight in 2008, another second-generation space traveller came along, in the form of space tourist Richard Garriott, the son of Skylab/Shuttle astronaut Owen Garriott.)

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