This view of the International Space Station was taken at Shenandoah National Park in Front Royal, Virginia on Sunday as the station sailed past the sun at 5 miles per second.
The ISS orbits about 250 miles above Earth and is currently hosting an expanded crew of nine. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly assumed command of the orbiting outpost on Saturday from cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who returns home on Friday as the world's most experienced space flier. Padalka will have accumulated a career total of nearly 879 days in orbit.
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Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are halfway through a planned year-long mission, an assignment that would be easier if time was spent traveling to Mars, Kelly told reporters during an inflight press conference Tuesday.
"I'm not saying I'm not psyched up for the rest of (the mission), but in some ways almost being halfway through, a lot of what we're going to be doing is similar to what we've already done. I'm excited for the folks who get to go to Mars someday," Kelly said.
The key to managing long-duration flights is to pace yourself, he added. "I don't think you can do this like you can a six-month mission."
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Also aboard the station are NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Volkov, Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui, Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen, and Kazakhstan cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov.
"It's very lively and I'm enjoying working in a large group," Yui told reporters, speaking through a translator.
Mogensen and Aimbetov, part of a short-term taxi crew, will ride back to Earth with Padalka on Friday aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule.