Astronaut Scott Kelly visited Kirkland’s Costco last week to promote his two new books, “Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery” and “My Journey to the Stars”.
The line stretched down several Costco aisles on Nov. 16 as more than 100 members of the community — young and old — gathered to buy books and get them signed. Many were simply excited to meet the famous astronaut, who has spent 520 days in space and formerly held the NASA record for the most accumulative time spent in space.
The record has been broken twice and is now held by Peggy Whitson with 665.9 days total. Kelly still holds the record for the longest American space flight at 340 consecutive days.
Kelly was met with admiration in Kirkland and some people were even overwhelmed by his presence. One young girl stepped to the side and took a moment to compose herself after shaking the astronaut’s hand.
Reed Warrick, a young boy dressed in a full astronaut jumpsuit, hopped up onto the signing table to speak with Kelly. Kelly spent a few minutes talking with Reed and used a water bottle to teach him about surface tension.
“The fun stuff in space, you know it’s the obvious,” Kelly said in a video promoting his children’s book. “You’re floating, you’re flying around at 17,500 miles per hour and you get a great view. I think it’s critically important to get little kids to become the future scientists and engineers of tomorrow.”
Reed’s father Kevin Warrick said he thinks his son’s eventual mission will be to Mars.
“My Journey to the Stars” is recommended for ages 5-8 and tells the the story of an ordinary boy who grew up to do extraordinary things. The picture-book focuses on Kelly’s journey from a young, troublesome student to a record-breaking astronaut alongside his twin brother, Mark. They are the first twin astronauts in history.
According to the book description, Kelly’s greatest accomplishment was commanding the International Space Station and his year-long mission in space.
Kelly is a veteran of four spaceflights and has commanded the International Space Station during three expeditions. On his final flight, a year-long joint mission with Russia that ended March 2016, he studied how long-term spaceflight affects human biology. This research will help forward eventual manned expeditions to Mars and beyond.
“We need to learn more about (space),” said Kristen Meijer, a Kirkland local, while waiting in line. “We have to have a plan B…and we have to get going because we’re destroying our planet.”
Meijer was purchasing Kelly’s personal memoir and said she’s always had an interest in unusual things. Joan Stevens, another Kirkland resident in line, said she was buying the book for her grandchildren.
“I always thought it would be fun, (to go into space), as long as I know I can come back,” she said with a laugh. “It’s just exciting.”
Kelly is a former military fighter pilot and test pilot, an engineer, a retired U.S. Navy captain and retired as an astronaut after his final mission, which is the centerpiece for his memoir.
Kelly’s book describes both the life-threatening and mundane challenges of long-term spaceflight, including the effects on his body, separation from loved ones and the general dangers of orbiting the Earth.
In addition, the book details Kelly’s inability to help his family after his twin brother’s wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was shot while he was still in space on a mission.
Kelly said one of his role models in life is Ernest Shackleton, the British antarctic explorer whose adventures are detailed in another memoir, “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage.”
“Being in a place that is isolated, remote, risky, challenging, is something that requires endurance. It also applies to my life in a lot of ways,” Kelly said in a video promoting his memoir. “I don’t see myself as a hero, I’m a guy who had this very lofty goal that came from humble beginnings and had some pretty large mountains to climb. But I feel very strongly that if you can dream it, you can do it.”