Mark Kelly is about to become the fourth NASA astronaut to serve in the U.S. Congress. In a tweet Wednesday, he said he was “deeply honored” to be elected and to serve in a position held by the late Senator John McCain. Kelly, a retired U.S. Navy captain and astronaut, has been on four space missions, including the last on the space shuttle Endeavour in 2011.
His identical twin, Scott Kelly, is also a retired astronaut. The two took part in NASA’s landmark Twin Study, in which Scott spent a year on the space station while scientists collected physiological data from Mark’s home town to compare them.
When he is sworn in, Kelly will become the only active-duty congressman to fly in space. Before him, there were three former NASA astronauts: Senators John Glenn, Jack Schmitt and Representative Jack Swigert. Two other former congressmen, Senator Jake Garn and Representative Bill Nelson, flew into space as experts. Apollo 13 astronaut John “Jack” Swigert was elected to the House of Representatives in 1982, but died of cancer before he took office.
“Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” Kelly tweeted Saturday. We have a number of challenges ahead of us, and I look forward to addressing them together. “
On the same day, his brother, Scott Kelly, tweeted a memory of his 500 days away from the International Space Station, “Looking out of our capsule window toward the truss, in awe of how we got together and accomplished this great feat.” If we can do that, as long as we put our heart and heart into it and work together, we can do anything. “