Astronaut Scott Kelly set what was then an American endurance record when he spent more than 11 months aboard the International Space Station from 2015 to 2016. It was his third time aboard the space station, after a career that also involved flying and commanding Space Shuttle flights.
But on the third ISS mission, Kelly was, himself, a subject of a science experiment. Researchers were monitoring him in space while they monitored his twin brother, Mark Kelly, on the ground. The results have yet to be published, but are expected to yield insights into the effects of long term space flight on the human body and psyche.
Kelly wrote a book about his year-long experience called Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery. In it, he explains that as a child and a young man he couldn't sit still and had a heck of a time completing his school work. What turned out to be his long, successful career in the military and at NASA seemed unlikely when he was in college. And it was, until the fateful day he picked Tom Wolfe’s book, The Right Stuff:
"I read the stories about the fighter pilots that became the test pilots that became the original Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts," says Kelly. "I recognized traits that these guys had that I could really relate to, that I felt like I had in myself - with one exception. I couldn't do my homework or pay attention or be a good student."
He says it was an 'aha' moment. "I thought if I could solve that problem, I could be just like them."
It's safe to say he solved that problem.