On March 27, 2015, the Federal Space Agency of Russia (Roskosmos) conducted successful launch of Soyuz-FG launch vehicle carrying Soyuz TMA-16M manned spaceship with three members of the Expedition 43 to the International Space Station (ISS) from Baikonur spaceport in Kasakhstan.
Being released from the launcher, Soyuz- TMA-16M with Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight engineers Mikhail Korniyenko and Scott Kelly, docked the ISS soon afterwards. This was the 125th flight of Soyuz spacecraft in its history counting from 1967.
It is planned that Gennady Padalka will stay aboard the orbital station for a regular term or half-year and will return home in October 2015 accompanying by ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen and space tourist, famous singer Sarah Brightman. Roscosmos cosmonaut Mikhail Korniyenko and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will perform the first, unprecedented one-year stay at the Space Station and are expected to land aboard Soyuz TMA-18M spaceship with Commander Sergey Volkov.
Most expeditions to the ISS last 4 to 6 months, NASA describes. By doubling the length of this mission, researchers hope to better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to long-duration spaceflight. This knowledge is critical as space agencies look toward human journeys deeper into the solar system, including to and from Mars, which could last 500 days or longer. Long exposure to a zero-gravity environment can affect the human body and result in changes to eyes, muscle atrophy and bone loss. Human psychology is also an important area of study, as the effects of living in isolated and small spaces will be important to be understood ahead of future deep space human missions.
While Scott Kelly is in space, his identical twin brother, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, will participate in a number of comparative genetic studies. These tests will track any degeneration or evolution that occurs in the human body from extended exposure to a zero-gravity environment. All research gathered from both the American and Russian crew members will be shared between the countries, an important step in reducing cost and improving efficiency for all future space station research
A number of spaceflight endurance records will be broken during the one-year mission. Scott Kelly will spend 342 days off the planet resulting in a total of 522 days in space, allowing him to surpass current US record holder Mike Fincke's mark of 382 days. The current record for the longest single mission aboard the space station set by NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin will also be broken. Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka is expected to become the new record holder for most cumulative time spent in space by any human, surpassing Sergei Krikalev's 803 days in orbit.
A lot of wonderful photos about the One-Year Crew mission, some of which are shown below, you could find at NASA's gallery.