Scott Kelly is one of the more famous astronauts in recent times, having completed a record-breaking year-long stay on the ISS from March 2015 to March 2016. Now the NASA astronaut has a new autobiography coming out, and it provides some rather fascinating details about his time in space.
The book is called Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery, and it’s on sale Tuesday, October 17. One of the major revelations in the book, revealed in an interview with the Associated Press, actually comes from Kelly’s previous space mission in 2010.
He describes how back then, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka came untethered from the International Space Station (ISS) during a spacewalk. It was only thanks to hitting an antenna that he drifted back towards the station. Kelly did not learn about this incident until five years later.
“I was like really? Holy crap. Crazy,” he said.
“I’ve often pondered what we would have done if we’d known he was drifting irretrievably away from the station,” he wrote in his book about the incident.
“It probably would have been possible to tie his family into the comm system in his spacesuit so they could say good-bye before the rising CO2 or oxygen deprivation caused him to lose consciousness – not something I wanted to spend a lot of time thinking about as my own spacewalk was approaching.”
Yep, that’s pretty harrowing.
Kelly also revealed the reasons for his first marriage breaking down – he realized he didn’t want to go through with the wedding but did anyway. And he said he didn’t want to initially go to the ISS (“space station stink” he calls it) as he wanted to keep flying the Space Shuttle.
Speaking to Texas Monthly, he also described a moment where he nearly got hit by space junk, not too dissimilar to the film Gravity.
“At the time, you think, if we get hit, we will be vaporized,” he said. “There’s no two ways about it; it would be like a nuclear explosion. But it’s not something worth dwelling on.”
Kelly’s book doesn’t beat around the bush, getting straight to the point on aspects of spaceflight and his own personal life. Astronauts might sometimes come across as being a bit reserved; Kelly is anything but.
His mission, along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, will be pivotal in helping us plan to get to Mars (or, now, the Moon). The NASA Twins Study is also still ongoing, to see how Scott’s body changed in space compared to his twin brother, Mark, who remained on Earth.