SUNY Maritime Welcomes Astronaut Alumnus Back to Earth
Late last night, SUNY Maritime College alumnus Scott Kelly, ’87, felt Earth’s gravity for the first time in nearly a year.
The astronaut safely landed in Kazakhstan after plummeting hundreds of miles to Earth from the International Space Station with Russian astronaut Mikhail Kornienko. The two have spent more than 11 months on the International Space Station to determine the effect of extended amounts of time in space on the human body.
“All of us at SUNY Maritime are thrilled to have Scott back on Earth, and congratulate him for the work he has done for science and for space exploration,” said Rear Adm. Michael A. Alfultis, president of SUNY Maritime. “Since his first days on campus, Scott has wanted to be an astronaut and we are proud that he has achieved that dream in such an important way.”
NASA has been studying Kelly and his identical twin, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, throughout the 340-day mission, to determine the effects of a long-term stay in orbit on a person’s immune system, mental health and body systems. A standard stay in the station is six months.
“Scott’s safe return to Earth is a proud moment for all of SUNY as we mark another fantastic accomplishment by one of our alumni,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Congratulations to Scott and his brother, Mark, on this successful completion of the first phase of their research to better understand the human body’s immune system.”
Scott Kelly will stay in Houston for rehabilitation and more tests as his body readjusts to the Earth’s gravity.
He will return to his alma mater to be given special recognition at the annual Admiral’s Scholarship Dinner on May 3.
Kelly has been a NASA astronaut since 1996. He has been into space four times. He spent half of his 11-month mission as the space station’s commander.
After Kelly graduated from SUNY Maritime, he earned a master’s degree in aviation systems from the University of Tennessee. He was designated a naval aviator in 1989 and worked as a fighter pilot and, later, a test pilot. He has logged more than 8,000 hours in more than 40 different aircraft and spacecraft and has more than 250 aircraft carrier landings.