WEST ORANGE, NJ - West Orange plans to "roll out the red carpet" to honor hometown son Scott Kelly when the astronaut pays a visit, said Mayor Rob Parisi on Thursday, praising Kelly for his recent 340-days-in-space mission.
The mayor said Kelly is remembered by many in town, noting the astronaut serves as an inspiration for local schoolchildren.
"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."
Kelly returned to the U.S. 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.
The positive sentiments were echoed by West Orange 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.
According to a press release from Americans for Responsible Solutions, United States Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly issued the following statement following his brother astronaut Scott Kelly’s return to the United States after a 340-day mission aboard the International Space Station. Along with his wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and many other loved ones and friends, Capt. Kelly greeted Scott early this morning upon his arrival in a NASA aircraft to Houston’s Ellington Joint Base Reserve.
Capt. Kelly’s statement:
“I was excited to welcome Scott home and back to American soil after his year aboard the International Space Station.
“It was a risky job. Scott knew the risks -- and he took them on in the name of exploration, science, and American leadership. And now we have the latest achievement in our country’s space program.
“There will be others. There must be. As I said from the launchpad before we lifted off for the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2011, it is in the DNA of our great country to explore. We must never stop. We must lead. We must discover.
“To my brother Scott: Thank you for your service to our nation. Thank you for helping us lead and discover. We’re really proud of you. And it’s really good to have you back on this incredible planet we all call home.”
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.