Record-setting US astronaut Scott Kelly retiring

  • 12/03/2016
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (AAP)
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (AAP)

The astronaut who holds the American record for most time spent in space, Scott Kelly, will retire from NASA on April 1.

Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth last week after nearly a year on the International Space Station, the longest US space mission on record, intended to pave the way for human travel to Mars.

NASA said that after retiring, Kelly, 52, would be part of ongoing research related to his time in space.

His identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, a former NASA astronaut, is participating in related studies looking for genetic changes caused by high radiation and the weightless environment of space.

"This year-in-space mission was a profound challenge for all involved, and it gave me a unique perspective and a lot of time to reflect on what my next step should be on our continued journey to help further our capabilities in space and on Earth," Scott Kelly said from NASA.

He flew in space four times beginning with a trip in space shuttle Discovery to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope on a servicing mission in 1999, NASA said.

Kelly, who previously spent 159 days on the station, said the hardest part of being in space for so long was being separated from his friends and family.

Kelly's 340-day mission eclipsed the previous US record spaceflight of 215 days, set by former astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria aboard the space station in 2007.

"Records are meant to be broken," Kelly said.

"I am looking forward to when these records in space are surpassed."