Space Double Play: Identical Twin Astronauts Share Jokes Across Final Frontier

Astronaut Double Take: Identical Twins Headed for Space Station
Twin brothers Scott Kelly and Mark Kelly, both NASA astronauts, are set to meet in space next year. Mark will command the last mission of the space shuttle Endeavour, STS-134, while Scott will lead the International Space Station's Expedition 26 mission. Full story. (Image credit: NASA TV)

Identicaltwin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly may have the ultimate brotherly bond. Theylook alike and talk alike, at times they even joke alike.

So it maynot be surprising that the twin jokes were flying Saturday night to mark one ofthe Kelly brothers' spaceflight. The American brothers pretended to pull acosmic switcheroo in their space missions. [Video: NASA'sIdentical Twin Astronauts]

Scottarrived at the InternationalSpace Stationlate Saturday along with two cosmonauts aboard a Russian Soyuz TMA-01Mspacecraft.

Mark Kellyis on Earth. He is older than Scott by six minutes. He and Scott are the world's firstastronaut twins and expect to meet up in space in March 2011, when their two spacemissions will coincide during NASA's final flight of the space shuttleEndeavour.

World's first twin astronauts

After Scott arrived at thespace stationSaturday, Mark called his brother from Russia's Mission Control Center nearMoscow. But there was a twist: Mark pretended to be his brother Scott, and pretendedthat the twins had swapped places just before the Soyuz launched on Oct. 7.

"HeyMark, this is Scott. Six months is a long time in space, so thanks for switchingspots with me," Mark said. "Just hope I can remember how to fly thatspace shuttle!"

"Thatis pretty funny," Scott replied with a smile.

To be clear,Scott Kelly is definitely in space. In November, he'll take command of thespace station to lead the outpost's Expedition 26 crew.

Mark willcommand Endeavour and dock it to the space station, where Scott will be incharge.

"I'llmake sure to bring up all your stuff when I bring Endeavour up," Marksaid.

Both Kellybrothers are using Twitter to chronicle their space missions. Scott uses thename StationCDRKelly, while Mark writes under the moniker ShuttleCDRKelly.

When Markwalked his brother out to the launch pad Oct. 7, he posted photos from cellphone every step of the way.

"It wasexciting to watch him rocket off into space one more time," Mark said onOct. 7. This is the third spaceflight for Scott Kelly. Mark also has flown onthree space missions.

Space family

And thefamily connections didn't stop there for Scott.

After thecall from his brother Saturday, Scott Kelly took a call from his teenagedaughter Samantha. He wished a belated happy birthday to her and his otherdaughter Charlotte, who both celebrated birthdays within the last few weeks.

Samanthaasked her father for permission to get a new cell phone, and used his spacemission as what may be the ultimate bargaining chip for a teenager's need for amobile device.

"Can Ihave an iPhone so I can keep up with your trip?" Samantha asked herfather.

Kellyfeigned audio troubles from space.

"I'm sorry,"Kelly said with a smile. "I didn't hear that."

"Pleeeaaassee!"his daughter asked again.

But that wasthe end of the space family small talk. The microphone at Russia's MissionControl Center moved on and Kelly and his crewmates got down to business.

Scott andtwo Russian crewmates joined three other astronauts already living aboard thespace station when their Soyuz docked Saturday. The newcomers plan to spendabout 5 1/2 months at the station. Scott will take command of the station inNovember.

Space jokes for space twins

In-jokes andsibling rivalry are nothing new for the Kelly twins. They grew up in WestOrange, N.J., were co-captains on their high school swim team, joined the Navyand even entered test pilot school at the same time.

"Prettymuch every day we would get into fist fights, so it was tough for my mom. She'dtry to break 'em up, then some of the fights would last hours and hours,"Mark said in a NASA interview before his brother launched Oct. 7

Still, theirparents worry when the Kelly brothers fly in space, and will likely worry twiceas much when both brothers are flying in orbit together next year.

"Theycertainly get nervous when we fly, but I think it's like all parents do,"Scott told before his mission launched.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.