Russia and the United States have chosen two veteran International Space Station astronauts to complete a yearlong mission on the orbiting laboratory, according to Reuters.
Russian Mikhail Korniyenko and American Scott Kelly are scheduled to hitch a ride on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the space station in the spring of 2015, according to an announcement on Monday from NASA and the Russian space agency Roskosmos.
NASA officials said the mission would help NASA understand how the human body adapts to extremely long space missions, according to Space.com.
William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, said in a statement, "The one-year increment will expand the bounds of how we live and work in space and will increase our knowledge regarding the effects of microgravity on humans as we prepare for future missions beyond low-Earth orbit."
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Some of the documented side effects of space flight include loss of bone and muscle mass, vision problems and the redistribution of body fluids, according to The Los Angeles Times. Motion sickness can also be severe.
Kelly would break the record for the longest space flight by an American, which is currently held by Michael Lopez-Alegria, who spent 215 days on the ISS in 2006-2007, Reuters noted. Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov holds the Russian record, having spent 438 days aboard Russia's Mir Space Station in 1994 and 1995.
CNET noted that the arrangement would also free up two seats on the Soyuz ferry for station visits from space tourists, providing much needed funding for the Russian space program. At least eight "space flight participants" or tourists were flown to the station between 2001 and 2008, each paying between $20 million and $50 million per flight.
The US has been relying on Russia to fly astronauts to the ISS, at a cost of more than $60 million per seat, since its space shuttle program ended last year. According to Space.com, NASA is developing mission plans to send astronauts to visit an asteroid near the Earth by 2025, a goal set by President Barack Obama.
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