The Kelly Astronaut Twins' Spaceflight History, by the Numbers

NASA Astronaut Twins: Scott and Mark Kelly
Scott Kelly (left) and his identical twin brother Mark at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan on March 26, 2015, shortly before Scott launched on a one-year mission to the International Space Station. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Former NASA astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly will be honored by their hometown of West Orange, New Jersey, today (May 19). You can watch a livestream of the dedication ceremony on the West Orange Public Schools' Facebook page.

The Kelly brothers — the only set of twins ever to fly in space — will receive "Mayoral Medals," and the elementary school they attended (currently called Pleasantdale Elementary) will be renamed after them during a ceremony in West Orange. Scott Kelly recently returned to Earth in March, ending a nearly yearlong mission to the International Space Station. Mark, who retired from NASA in 2011 (Scott retired last month), helped scientists on Earth during the mission by participating in NASA's Twins Study, an unprecedented project that meticulously monitored the identical twins to see exactly how the human body changes during ultralong space missions.

Here's a brief rundown of the identical twins' spaceflight history, along with a biographical tidbit or two.

Date of birth: Feb. 21, 1964

Who is older, and by how much: Mark (6 minutes)

Year selected to NASA astronaut corps: 1996

Year retired: 2011 (Mark), 2016 (Scott)

Who flew to space first? Scott (1999)

Total time in space (both twins): Approximately 574 days

Individual time in space: Approximately 54 days (Mark) and 520 days (Scott; this is the current American record)

Total spaceships flown: 4. Space shuttle Discovery (Mark 2 times and Scott 1 time); space shuttle Endeavour (Mark 2 times and Scott 1 time); Russian Soyuz spacecraft (Scott 2 times); International Space Station (Scott 2 times).

Total spaceflights: 8. Mark: STS-108 (2001), STS-121 (2006), STS-124 (2008), STS-134 (2011). Scott: STS-103 (1999), STS-118 (2007), International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 25/26 (2010-11), ISS Expeditions 43-46 (2015-16).

Missions commanded: 5. Mark: STS-124, STS-134. Scott: ISS Expedition 26, ISS Expedition 45, ISS Expedition 46.

Spacewalks performed: 3 (all by Scott)

"Return to Flight" mission flown, after loss of space shuttle Columbia: 1 (Mark, STS-121)

Space toilets replaced: 1 (Mark, STS-124)

Telescopes repaired: 1 (Hubble Space Telescope, Scott, STS-103)

Christmases spent in space: 3 (all by Scott)

Editor's note: and its partner are media supporters of the Pleasantdale Elementary School renaming ceremony to honor the Kelly astronaut brothers.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: