News / Science & Technology

Astronaut and Cosmonaut to Spend Year in Orbit

The International Space Station. The International Space Station.
x
The International Space Station.
The International Space Station.
Suzanne Presto
When astronauts travel to the International Space Station, the journey takes about two days and the usual tour aboard the orbiting outpost is six months or less.      

No one has ever spent a year on the space station in a single mission, but that is going to change.

A Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut are going to spend a year aboard the space lab to learn more about the way humans react to extended stays in space.

A Year in Orbit

Julie Robinson, a scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, said mission is designed to collect information needed to send people to new destinations in the solar system.   

"Today, we're in a position where we think we know a lot more about what it takes to keep a crew member healthy for six months in orbit," said Robinson.  "But we know that for a variety of space missions that are under consideration, we really might need crew members to go a little bit longer."

NASA said only four people have spent a year or longer in orbit on a single mission - all on them aboard Mir, the Russian space station that eventually fell back to Earth in 2001.  The record-holder is a former Russian cosmonaut, Valery Polyakov, who spent 438 days in space - from January 1994 to March 1995.

NASA's Julie Robinson said there is much to be gained from an extended stay aboard the International Space Station.

"In the past, the Russian cosmonauts that have flown for one year, they flew at a time when both medical technology was not as advanced as it is today and also when we didn't have the knowledge that we've gotten from the space station so far about exercise routines and nutrition," said Robinson.

Living in Microgravity

People have been aboard the space station continuously for the past 12 years, and astronauts serve as researchers and research subjects.  They must deal with microgravity, an environment where the pull of gravity is weak and things seem weightless.  Scientists have studied the effects of microgravity on muscle mass, strength, vision and bone density.

Scientist Julie Robinson said one of the goals of this longer mission is to learn whether physiological changes plateau or continue as people spend more time in space.  

Staying Strong in Space

Scott Smith, a NASA scientist who specializes in nutrition at the Johnson Space Center, said recent studies show that crew members who eat well, consume enough Vitamin D and exercise vigorously can maintain strong bones.

"We have shown, for the first time in 51 years of human spaceflight, significant progress in maintaining bone mineral density," said Smith.  "Again, there are some things that we still need to do in terms of understanding changes in bone strength.  There are some things we need to do in terms of optimizing exercise, in terms of optimizing nutrition.  But again, the fact that we're making progress in human subjects during spaceflight is very exciting stuff."  

The yet to be named astronaut and cosmonaut are expected to take a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station in 2015 to begin their year in orbit.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Enter Public Office in Record Numbers

A steady deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid