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News Release

Jan. 26, 2022

Distinguished Lecture Series to host astronaut Scott Kelly Feb. 8

Northwest Missouri State University will host retired NASA astronaut Capt. Scott Kelly at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts as the next featured speaker for the University’s Distinguished Lecture Series and annual Lemon Lecture.

Kelly’s presentation centers on the remarkable story of his year in space – and how personal determination made the difference when meeting challenges on space missions and his personal life. He set the record for the total accumulated number of days spent in space, the single longest space mission by an American astronaut.

“We’re very pleased and feel lucky to have Capt. Scott Kelly visit our campus,” Kenton Wilcox, the chair of the Distinguished Lecture Series Committee and a senior instructor of English at Northwest, said. “In the past, we’ve had Fred Haise of Apollo 13 and Jim Irwin of Apollo 15, and Kelly’s visit offers another chapter regarding human space exploration. Capt. Kelly’s story, and his twin brother’s story, both offering themselves to the service of science and in preparation for our planned Mars mission, offer us a glimpse of science and technology at their most aspirational – and potentially sacrificial. His presentation will make for a compelling evening.”

With humor and an engineer’s eye for detail, Kelly covers the extreme dangers in space: the isolation, physical impact on the body and pressures of living so closely in a small cabin as well as facing the risk of space junk or catastrophic depressurization. He details how courage and preparation can mean the difference between life and death or success and failure for a team.

Kelly also relays stories from his rough-and-tumble childhood and how he attained the rank of captain in the U.S. Navy. He flew more than 8,000 hours in more than 40 aircraft and accomplished more than 250 carrier landings throughout his career.

He and his twin brother, Mark, were selected to become astronaut candidates in April 1996 and were the first relatives to be selected to be astronauts. After completing training, Kelly was a crew member and commanded NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO), a mission where groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists live in Aquarius underwater laboratory, the world's only undersea research station.

Kelly commanded the International Space Station (ISS) on three expeditions and was a member of the year-long mission to the ISS. He was enrolled in a unique study that measured the impact of space travel on his body and compared it to his twin brother, who spent the same year on Earth. The study demonstrated long-lasting changes in the body, including alterations in DNA and cognition. He retired from NASA in 2016.

Also a successful author, Kelly wrote the best-selling “Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery and Infinite Wonder: An Astronaut’s Photographs From a Year in Space,” which is a collection of photos documenting his journey on the space station.

The lecture is free and open to the public with seats available on a first-come, first-serve basis. In alignment with Northwest’s COVID-19 mitigation measures, face coverings are required for people who are not up to date with their vaccines; face coverings are optional but recommended for people who are up to date with their vaccines.

The objective of the Distinguished Lecture Series is to enhance the academic environment through individual discipline and interdisciplinary topics. Supported by the Office of the Provost and the Student Activities Council, the series offers the Northwest campus and surrounding communities with opportunities to hear from extraordinary individuals from throughout the globe. Scholars, world travelers and leaders in their fields visit the Northwest campus to share their wisdom, insight and experiences.

As the University's Lemon Lecture, funding support is provided through the generosity of Beatrice E. Hanson, who graduated from Northwest in 1936. The program is named in honor of James H. Lemon, her grandfather and a founder of the Fifth District Normal School, which is now Northwest Missouri State University.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215