Astronaut Scott Kelly arrived in Houston to hugs, beer and apple pie after nearly a year in space.
Kelly touched down Thursday at 2:20 a.m. ET, his first stop on American soil. He was welcomed by second lady Jill Biden, his identical twin and former astronaut Mark Kelly, and various NASA officials.
Biden brought the astronaut beer and apple pie.
“Nothing’s more American than that,” she said. “… That’s what he said he wanted.”
‘It’s great to be back’
Scott Kelly attributed the success of his year in space to his NASA colleagues, family and friends.
“It’s great to be back in Texas, on U.S. soil … on planet Earth,” he said.
“This is not my achievement. It’s NASA’s achievement and it’s our country’s achievement. … There’s no greater privilege than serving your country however and wherever you might do it.”
In a phone call, President Barack Obama applauded him for his record-breaking yearlong mission.
In a statement, the White House said, “Kelly’s year in space would provide critical data to researchers trying to understand how to keep astronauts healthy during long space voyages and fulfill the President’s vision of putting American astronauts on Mars in the 2030s.”
Taller than twin
Kelly, 52, returns home a little bit taller than his brother. The twins used to be the same height — but not anymore.
Scott Kelly grew 2 inches during his time aboard the International Space Station, NASA’s Jeff Williams said.
It was expected, and it’s temporary, Williams said.
“Astronauts get taller in space as the spine elongates,” Williams said. “But they return to preflight height after a short time back on Earth.”
Though he’s no longer an astronaut, Mark Kelly volunteered to take part in NASA’s “Twins Study” with his brother. NASA wants to see how the identical twins measure up after a year in two very different environments: Scott in space and Mark on Earth.
Scott Kelly returned to Earth on Tuesday after 340 days, the longest any U.S. astronaut has been in space.
Since then, he has been getting reacquainted with his planet, posting a series of tweets about life on the ground.
And after nearly a year sharing pictures of breathtaking views and high-tech equipment, Kelly did something Wednesday that showed he’s just like the rest of us.
He posted a photo of his lunch.