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A Year In Space

Airs Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly is seen inside a Soyuz simulator at the Gagarin Co...

Credit: Courtesy of Bill Ingalls / NASA

Above: NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly is seen inside a Soyuz simulator at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC), Wednesday, March 4, 2015 in Star City, Russia. Kelly, along with Expedition 43 Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos were at GCTC for the second day of qualification exams in preparation for their launch to the International Space Station onboard a Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan March 28, Kazakh time. As the one-year crew, Kelly and Kornienko will return to Earth on Soyuz TMA-18M in March 2016.

The two-part series, A YEAR IN SPACE, is adapted from TIME’s original digital video series about astronaut Scott Kelly, whose current 12-month stay on the International Space Station (ISS) is testing human limits for space travel and laying the groundwork for a manned mission to Mars.

A Year in Space | Trailer

Follow astronaut Scott Kelly’s record-breaking 12-month mission on the International Space Station, from launch to landing, as NASA charts the effects of long-duration spaceflight by comparing him to his identical twin on Earth, astronaut Mark Kelly. Landing Wednesday, March 2 at 8/7c.

The first installment, which tracks Scott Kelly’s mission from training and launch, through his 12 months aboard the International Space Station, right up through his descent and landing premiered Wednesday, March 2, 2016 on PBS, timed within a day of Scott’s planned return to Earth.

The second installment is scheduled to air Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 at 9 p.m. & repeat on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 3 p.m.

Despite the technological “comforts” of the ISS, a year in space—the longest space mission in American history—has been described as the epitome of extreme, with extraordinarily high physical stakes.

Following Scott in space and his identical twin Mark Kelly at home on Earth, the specials will tell the story of what it takes, mentally and physically, to spend a year in space and then, using what the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has learned from the Kelly brothers, what it means for humanity as we journey to Mars and beyond.

Space Twins

Using data from identical twin astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, NASA’s twin study is investigating the long-term effects of space travel on the human body. The results will be used to help get humans to Mars.

In the Kelly brothers, NASA has a near-perfect, two-person sample group for biomedical research. NASA is closely tracking Scott’s physical and emotional changes, and his biological functions, down to the molecular level while he is in orbit.

Space Food

In the world of zero gravity of the International Space Station, making dinner can be tricky. Astronauts must rely on surface tension, Velcro and crafty planning to prepare their meals. A Year in Space premieres Wednesday, March 2, 2016, 8/9c on PBS. #YearInSpace

The agency hopes to identify precisely what changes happened to Scott as a result of 12 months in space by comparing him to his identical twin, Mark, on Earth.

What NASA learns about how Scott withstands the physical and psychological difficulties will provide scientists with key data to develop methods of overcoming the challenges of human interplanetary travel.

Viewers will witness the rigors of Scott’s training to live in space for an entire year and will get to know his family and their dreams, stresses, fears and loves.

Earthly Pleasures

As Scott Kelly orbits the Earth for an entire year, he misses many of Earth’s pleasures, from the people he left behind, to the comforts of home, to the sound of rain or a cool breeze.

What Do You Think?

What would you miss the most? What's the first thing you would do?

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Interwoven into the series’ compelling personal story, the film will also delve into the broader historical context of the mission, including the history of space exploration, the political background of the Russian-U.S. relationship — Scott’s compatriot at the start of the mission is Russian astronaut Mikhail Korniyenk — and the science/engineering conundrums posed by interplanetary space travel.

Space: The Only Place Left Where the U.S. and Russia Cooperate

The Cold War is over, but tensions between Russia and the United States remain high. Today, there is only one place where American astronauts can launch into space- and it’s in the heart of the old Soviet empire.

The second episode will follow what happens to Scott Kelly as he returns to life on Earth. Once back on the ground, NASA will study what happens to the mind and body during and after long-duration space travel.

It also explores the future of humanity’s attempts to live beyond Earth. What will it take – technically and socially – to travel to and establish outposts on other planets, moons and asteroids?

Space Tweets

Even from its orbit of 249 miles above, Scott Kelly stays connected to the people of Earth with the power of social media. His Twitter feed and Instagram accounts have become world-wide phenomena. #YearinSpace

Where Over Earth Is This?

As Scott Kelly traveled the world more than 220 miles above the Earth, he circumnavigated the globe more than a dozen times a day. During his stay, he engaged Earthlings back home by way of a world geography trivia game on Twitter. Try your hand at #SpaceGeo with these photographs.


“A YEAR IN SPACE is an incredible opportunity to immerse audiences into an exciting current event, nearly in real-time. However, it is also a compelling human drama exploring the potential tragedies or triumphs of exploration. It is as close to a feature film as any documentary can get,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS.

“The series represents one of Time Inc.'s most ambitious projects to date. It's an example of the high-quality programming that we are producing across our brands that audiences can access on any platform,” said Ian Orefice, Senior Executive Producer of Time Inc. Video. “We are thrilled to be working with PBS on this monumental program and look forward to a collaborative partnership.”

“The production process on this project is truly exceptional, and the collaboration among partners to bring this story to life and to the airwaves within a day of Scott Kelly’s return is unparalleled,” added Halperin. “This series offers one scenario for the potential future of human existence and begins to pose difficult questions about what that future might look like, such as will we be able to establish the human race on other worlds, will we want to, and what will we do with this world?”


This full episode is available to stream on demand with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members ($60 yearly) using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.


TIME, owned by Time Inc., created A YEAR IN SPACE in 2015 as a yearlong, 11-part digital video series, produced by TIME’s Supervising Producer Jonathan Woods and directed by Shaul Schwarz. The episodes can be found on

Produced by TIME’s Red Border Films, with Jonathan Halperin, Mark Mannucci and Jonathan Woods serving as the producers.

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