WEST ORANGE, NJ - Astronaut Scott Kelly, a West Orange native, returned to the US on Wednesday amid national and local praise.
President Barack Obama tweeted his wishes to the American astronaut after Kelly’s 340 days in space.
"Welcome back to Earth, @StationCDRKelly! Your year in space is vital to the future of American space travel. Hope gravity isn't a drag!" Obama said via Twitter.
West Orange Mayor Rob Parisi, speaking for the town where Kelly was raised and schooled, added his congratulations.
"We remember Scott as an incredibly hardworking and dedicated person,” said Parisi. “We’re not surprised he’s made history becoming the first American astronaut to complete a full year in space and we're extremely proud of him,” he added.
The mayor also noted how Kelly’s achievements will motivate local West Orange school children.
“He serves as a role model who inspires generations of West Orange children to set goals and dream big," he said.
Parisi said the town will roll out the red carpet for the Kelly brothers and their families once they both are allowed to travel by NASA.
The sentiment was echoed by Councilwoman Susan McCartney, who said, “l look forward to working with the Chamber of Commerce, the Pleasant Valley Civic Association and the community on a Pleasant Valley Way parade to honor Commander Kelly.”
Kelly is reuniting with his family in Houston including his two daughters, his girlfriend, who is a NASA public affairs officer at the Johnson Space Center, and his sister-in-law, former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is Mark's wife.
Houston will be home for a while, as Scott will be undergoing weeks and months of physical, biological and mental tests, according to NASA. In a video provided by NASA, Kelly looked to be in good shape upon arrival and in a press conference afterward.
Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, Scott’s twin brother who remained on Earth, will be examined and tested just as much as his brother, according to NASA. Scientists will compare the results between them to determine the effects of long-term space flight.
Kelly’s mission was a first step for NASA. The agency said it is looking to put astronauts on Mars in the 2030s, but that they first have to determine how a long mission will affect the human body. A Mars mission is expected to last two and a half years.
One thing that will change immediately: Kelly’s Twitter account won’t include as many images of his views from space. Some of those images provided by NASA are included in the pictures in the above gallery.