NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who just returned from 340 days in space—the longest for any American—has announced he’s hanging up his spacesuit and will retire from the agency effective April 1.
Kelly joined the astronaut corp in 1996 and has flown to space four times. He holds NASA’s record for cumulative time spent in space at 520 days.
Kelly’s retirement won’t be a total break from NASA. He will continue to participate in the research project connected to his nearly one-year mission at the Space Station that ended on March 1. NASA is studying the effects on the human body of long-term stays in space by studying Kelly and his twin brother, former astronaut Mark Kelly.
Both will continue to provide periodic medical samples and undergo other tests.
“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,” Kelly said in a statement.
“I am humbled and excited by new opportunities for me to support and share the amazing work NASA is doing to help us travel farther into the solar system and work with the next generation of science and technology leaders,” he added.
“Scott’s contributions to NASA are too many to name,” said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in the release. “In his year aboard the space station, he took part in experiments that will have far-reaching effects, helping us pave the way to putting humans on Mars and benefiting life on Earth.”
Scott Kelly is a New Jersey native who attended State University of New York Maritime College for his undergrad and received a Master of Science in Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1996.