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(Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

For 340 days, the world looked up to astronaut Scott Kelly as he documented his innovative year aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Kelly shared spectacular images and even some thank-you notes from 240 miles above the earth.

But Kelly's time in space was anything but fun and games. He was a crucial half of the two subjects of NASA's Twin Study.

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Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech to the Pentagon pushing for the creation of a Space Force, which he touted as a new, "separate but equal" branch of the United States Armed Forces.

The proposal has been met with widespread skepticism and even ridicule, and former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has been an outspoken opponent of the idea.

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Science fiction has long been the watchman on the wall, warning of potential horrors that await us in space. While we dream of one day traveling beyond Earth’s gravity, there is now a new danger to overcome if our bodies are to survive the journey.

When astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth in March 2016, after spending a year in space, NASA began collecting data on how space travel affects the human body. As with previous astronauts, Kelly experienced bone density loss due to microgravity, and accumulated fluid between spinal disks extended his height by 1.5 inches. But NASA scientists are now discovering that extensive time in space changed astronaut Kelly on a genetic level.

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[DIGEST: ABC, Popular Science, NASA]

American astronaut Scott Kelly made a triumphant return to Earth on March 1 after spending 340 consecutive days in orbit. Not only is the length of time spent on the International Space Station remarkable—it’s the longest of any American astronaut—Kelly’s journey is also valuable to researchers because of the person he left behind on Earth: his twin brother.

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