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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs