A former space shuttle commander will attempt the longest spaceflight ever by an American.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, 48, and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, 52, will spend an entire year aboard the International Space Station beginning in 2015.
Both countries' space agencies announced the names of the two veterans of space travel on Monday. The extended mission was approved almost two months ago to provide a medical foundation for future missions around the moon, as well as far-flung trips to asteroids and Mars.
Both men already have lived aboard the space station for six months. NASA wanted experienced space station astronauts to streamline the amount of training necessary for a one-year stint. Officials had said the list of candidates was very short. They will begin training next year. "The one-year increment will expand the bounds of how we live and work in space and will increase our knowledge regarding the effects of microgravity on humans as we prepare for future missions beyond low-Earth orbit," said Bill Gerstenmaier, head of human exploration for NASA.
Kelly's identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, retired from the astronaut corps last year and moved to Tucson, Ariz., the hometown of his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. She was critically wounded in an assassination attempt in January 2011, while Scott Kelly was living aboard the space station.
Russia will continue to hold the world space endurance record. Four cosmonauts spent at least a year aboard the old Mir space station. A Russian physician, Valery Polyakov, logged nearly 15 continuous months there in the mid 1990s.