Scott Kelly: An astronaut’s advice on social distancing

Apr 21, 2020, 2:31 PM | Updated: Apr 22, 2020, 1:28 pm
advice on social distancing...
Photo: NASA

There are very few people who have spent more time in space than Commander Scott Kelly, so he knows a thing or two about social distancing.

Kelly holds the record for the longest continuous spaceflight after spending 342 days in the International Space Station and shared some of the knowledge he learned from his time in space.

An astronauts advice on social distancing

Kelly had three previous space flights before his Year in Space mission. At first, Kelly told Boyd Matheson he wasn’t interested in the extended stay in space.

“Four years prior to my nearly year-long flight, I flew a mission to the space station that was 159 days and realized near the last third of it I was pretty fatigued and kind of worn out and felt like the walls were closing in on me,” mentioned Kelly.

When he was given the opportunity to take that year-long mission, Kelly admits he was a little hesitant.

“At first it didn’t really interest me, but later I thought I wanted to fly in space again.

“I wanted it to be more challenging and what would be more challenging than something that was more than twice as long [as my last flight] understanding that I had a little bit of an issue at the end of a flight that wasn’t even six months. So, I put a lot of thought into what I could do to get through that year with as much energy and enthusiasm at the end that I had at the beginning.”

Kelly said traveling a year in space with a positive mindset helped him be successful.

“For me, I understood that my mission was to spend a lot of time in space, that was my job, and I wanted to do a good job and when I got done with it I wanted to be able to look back on the experience and say you know what I did everything, or at least most things, right.”

Kelly said his mission is similar to the responsibility we’re all facing right now.

“This is a responsibility we all have to take this guidance as seriously as possible.

“I understand that everyone’s situation is different, but I think looking at this pandemic,t his is a battle that we’re all waging. This is all our mission.”

Don’t count the days

Kelly’s biggest piece of advice during social distancing is not to count the days and keep a schedule.

He said he consciously tried not to count down the days.

Kelly’s Russian colleague started counting down the days when they had 100 days left on the ISS, but Kelly took a more holistic approach.

“I sort of counted up a little bit look[ing] at things that were coming up in the future on my schedule, major milestones like a spacewalk or beating somebody else’s record for days in space.”

Get some sunlight

Another thing that Kelly said was helpful to him during his extended time in space was getting exercise.

“I got a lot of exercise,” Kelly told Inside Sources.

“I didn’t get outside because, you know it’s space, at least not outside the way we would normally think, but I think it’s important for people to get sunlight.

“A lack of exercise and a lack of sunlight affects your immune system. We know all that from spaceflight.”

Kelly also stated it’s important to get to know those in your ‘crew’ that you’re spending the quarantine with. Learn what their skills are so you can help out and elevate each other and have a successful ‘mission’.

You can hear the full conversation that Commander Kelly had with Boyd Matheson on the Inside Sources podcast below.

You can also catch Inside Sources live on KSLNewsRadio Monday-Thursday from 11 am to noon on 102.7 FM, on the KSLNewsRadio App, or by simply asking your smart speaker to play KSL.

Kelly will also be joining the Natural History Museum of Utah for a free live Q&A session online this Friday, April 24th.



How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

UtahState Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States


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Scott Kelly: An astronaut’s advice on social distancing