Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly re-elected to US Senate: reports

Mark Kelly aboard the space shuttle Discovery during the STS-124 mission in 2008.
Mark Kelly aboard the space shuttle Discovery during the STS-124 mission in 2008. (Image credit: NASA)

Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly has won re-election to the United States Senate, multiple media outlets are projecting.

Mark Kelly, an incumbent Democratic senator from Arizona, defeated his Republican opponent Blake Masters, according to The Associated Press, NBC News and other organizations.

As of Friday night (Nov. 11), Kelly was ahead by more than 120,000 votes with an estimated 394,000 votes left to count,, according to NBC News, which sees no path to victory for Masters at this point.

Kelly celebrated the news via Twitter, posting a thank-you to the citizens of Arizona.

Related: Biography of former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly

Kelly was first elected to the Senate in 2020, becoming just the fourth former astronaut ever to win a seat in Congress. In that race, Kelly defeated Republican Martha McSally, whom Arizona's governor had appointed after longtime senator John McCain died in 2018.

Kelly joined NASA as an astronaut candidate in 1996, in the same class as his twin brother, Scott. Mark Kelly spent a total of 54 days off Earth across four space shuttle missions, the last of which flew in 2011.

He retired from NASA that same year but played a key role in Scott's epic 11-month mission aboard the International Space Station, which ran from late March 2015 to early March 2016. Scientists collected medical and physiological data from both twins — one in space and one on the ground — throughout the mission, in an attempt to quantify the impacts of long-duration spaceflight on the human body.

Scott Kelly retired from NASA in April 2016, shortly after the mission wrapped up.

Mark Kelly is married to former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt during an event with constituents in January 2011. Both Kelly and Giffords are strong advocates for gun control.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.