It's not easy living in space. But then, it's not easy coming back to Earth either.
Picking up where the PBS documentary A Year In Space left off, the sequel, aptly entitled Beyond A Year In Space, chronicles what it's been like for U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly since returning from his 340 days in space. It also introduces the next generation of astronauts who could spend even longer stretches in space on future missions.
Kelly spent a year living aboard the International Space Station, along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, so that scientists can study the long-term effects of space on the body. (Warning: It's not all pretty.) By luck, Scott Kelly has an identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, astronaut and husband of former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who remained on Earth as a sort of experimental control for researchers.
The documentary opens with Kelly's last day in space. It follows him as the Soyuz capsule brings him safely back to Earth -- landing on the broad steppes of Kazakhstan. Upon landing researchers put Kelly through a battery of tests to gauge his strength and coordination, tests that continue into the weeks and months that follow. A year without gravity has left his muscles and joints stiff and sore, despite a rigorous exercise schedule aboard the ISS.
"Gravity definitely gives you a beat-down when you get back," he says.