Kelly has spent more cumulative time in outer space than any other American - 520 days over the course of four missions. In this latter mission alone, Kelly spent 125 more days in space than the closest U.S. Astronaut contender.
In all, the nearly year-long trip involved 144 million miles through space, as it circled the world 5,440 times, experiencing 10,880 orbital sunrises and sunsets. Along the way, thirteen other U.S., Russian, European and Japanese space fliers came and went to the space station during the past year.
One other thing about Kelly is significant. His identical twin, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, volunteered back here on earth to serve as a medical guinea pig in order to allow researchers to study the differences between the genetic doubles, one in space and the other on the ground.
Comparisons of blood, saliva and urine samples, ultrasounds, bone scans, etc… all helped to establish the effects of extended space travel on the human body. Armed with this data, NASA Scientists are hoping for to gear up for human expeditions to Mars in the 2030s.
Already, they know that radiation will be a serious challenge. Equally as worrisome are the body’s and mind's respective durability over what will be a 2½-year round trip journey to the Red Planet. As Scott Kelly’s experiences will go a long way toward helping to solve these mysteries, his contributions will be long remembered.
Such is the essence of most every news article on the return of Scott Kelly to Planet Earth this week. But there is another question equally as troublesome as that of what has happened to Astronaut Kelly in his year of absence. And that question is this: what has happened here on earth during this same year of his absence?
Easter is on the horizon. At that time, billions of believers worldwide will celebrate the death, burial, and glorious resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. But Biblically, even the resurrection is not the end of Jesus’ story. Forty days later, He ascended into Heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Heavenly Father. And at the appointed time, He will one day return to Earth to reclaim His followers and to bring judgment on non-believers.
During His time on Earth, Jesus posed the following question (as recorded in the Gospel of Luke 18:8):
“When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
The context for this question is the parable Jesus had just told about a persistent woman who kept coming back to a judge in her city in order to get justice for a wrong done to her. That parable itself had been set up by this sentence in Luke 18:1:
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
In the Gospel of Matthew (24:3), the Bible says:
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Notice the answer Jesus gave in verses 4-14:
“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Note especially the two phrases I have underlined:
“At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” and “the love of most will grow cold”.
Later, commenting on this very theme, the Apostle Paul made this statement in his Second New Testament Letter to the Thessalonians (2:3):
“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs…”
The King James translation puts it this way:
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first…”
The original Koine (or common) Greek term Paul used here is the word “apostasia”, from which we get “apostasy” in English. The technical definition is “a defection, a departure (implying desertion)”; literally, "a leaving, from a previous standing." It derives from another term: “aphistemi”, meaning “to leave, to depart", which is itself derived from a combination of two other words: “apo”, meaning "away from" and “histemi”, meaning "to stand").
Thus, the Bible clearly foretells a time when there will be a great apostasy, or abandoning of the Christian faith by many. As a consequence of this, many will grow unloving and even uncivil toward others.
There can be little doubt that we live in such times. In recent years, especially, it seems that orthodox Christian faith and its resultant practices have both been less and less embraced by society. Along the way, despite our twin cultural emphases on tolerance and acceptance, we have become increasingly divided, and arguably downright hostile toward one another.
In 1968, the nightmarish vision of Pierre Boulle’s novel was introduced to most of the world when a movie was released about an American Astronaut (portrayed by Charlton Heston) who returned to Earth to discover that a planet once inhabited by civilized men and women was now inexplicably under the control of brutes who behaved far more animal than human. One wonders just how much of the present is reflected in that fictional if fairly prophetic tale.
If civility has deteriorated this much in the few years since Planet of the Apes was released, one wonders what will happen in next few years! Indeed, had Scott Kelly stayed in space for a decade rather than a year, the question is this: “Would he even recognize the world he had left behind?”
Little wonder, then, that Jesus asked the question He did. He knew full well He likely would not!
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/niv/matthew/24.htm and http://biblehub.com/text/2_thessalonians/2-3.htm.