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American and Russian Spending a Year in Space; Remembering Life Aboard the International Space Station; Imagine a World. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired December 25, 2015 - 17:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour with a special edition, looking at some

of the highlights of our year.

And tonight, we look to the stars. And think for a moment about an incredible feat of human ingenuity that we now accept without batting an


Sitting atop 157 tons of rocket fuel, three more people were blasted off our planet this year, bound for the International Space Station.

Astronauts live for months at a time in an apartment-sized cylinder. They hurtle at more than 17,000 miles an hour around the Earth. But spending a

year up there is an extreme experience and two men are doing just that, American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko.

Speaking to someone on the space station is no easy feat, either. It orbits the globe in just 90 minutes and you have a very small window to

make a connection. But we got some help from NASA's wizardry. And by the end of this year, we managed to do just that.


AMANPOUR: Station, this is CNN.

How do you hear me?

KELLY: We hear you loud and clear. Welcome aboard the space station.

AMANPOUR: Well, it is a huge thrill for us to welcome you to our program and for me to be able to talk to you all the way out there in space. It's

really exciting.

But you're halfway through nearly a year-long mission.

Is it ho-hum for you at this point?

Or is it still gee whiz, Scott Kelly?

KELLY: Yes, Christiane. You know, there are certain parts about it that at certain times I do kind of take a step back and I realize I'm living in

space and doing this work that I consider a privilege. But we've been up here now over 260 days. So sometimes it -- the daily routine is somewhat

of a routine.

But there are those moments that impress me and I'm sure Misha in a very profound way.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, Mikhail Kornienko, how does it feel to be up there so long, nearly six months now?

MIKHAIL KORNIENKO, RUSSIAN COSMONAUT (through translator): Actually it's not six; it's nine months. So I'm feeling fine -- besides my crew is just

great, wonderful. All the crews that worked on board with me are great professionals.

Of course, as any of us, I miss my family, my home. But I can say that I am happy, excited and very proud to be entrusted with this mission.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you both, as I love watching you float that microphone back and forth to each other, you are watching our planet with a

view unlike anyone else in this universe right now.


AMANPOUR: And you've just seen a climate deal reached in Paris, about 200 nations signing on.

Were you surprised that it would happen?

I know you lobbied for it.

And what is your take on the survival of our planet?

Scott Kelly, first you.

KELLY: Well, you know, a couple of things. I was surprised on the agreement because just to get that many people to agree to anything is

pretty difficult. So in that regard, it was a historic event. And hopefully it'll continue to be supported. I think it has to go back to all

the individual countries and still gain their support.

With regard to the planet, having this vantage point from space, you do see things like the thinness of the atmosphere that are alarming. I mean, it

just looks very fragile. We can see the effects of our presence on Earth by looking out the window. There's certain areas of the globe that are

almost constantly covered with pollution.

We can see weather systems that don't normally occur in certain areas that we now see more commonly. So I think it's something that's very important

for the collective group of people that require this planet for them to survive.

You know, it's kind of funny; people say we need to save the Earth. I think what we need to save is us because the Earth is probably going to

last a long time. But we need the environment of the Earth to be able to sustain us. So we have to protect it.

AMANPOUR: Good point.

Let me ask you both, obviously your two nations, Russia and the United States, and many others cooperated on this agreement. But they are at

loggerheads on so many other big, big issues today, whether it's Ukraine, whether it's Syria, whatever it might be.

I'm just curious, does politics play any role up there, all those miles away in space?

KELLY: Well, Christiane, so clearly it's something where we're obviously aware of. I mean, we follow the news. It's not something we generally

discuss between each other although sometimes we do.

What's most important to Misha and me and our Russian colleagues and them with us is that we have to rely on each other literally for our lives.

And not only are we great friends but we're completely reliant on each other. If there's an emergency up here, we have to take care of one

another. And that's, for us, the most important thing.

And we understand that there can be conflicts at times between nations.

And I think one of the great things about this space station if we have demonstrated that two cultures that are somewhat different and then

somewhat -- sometimes can be at odds with one another over certain things have demonstrated that they can work together in a very cooperative way.

It's something very, very difficult for a long period of time.

AMANPOUR: And, Mikhail, your view?

KORNIENKO (through translator): I can only join in and say that the international station is free of any politics. We are very polite, always

very considerate of each other in such discussions.

Furthermore, I would say that our work here and our cooperation onboard the ISS is a great example for all politicians because if they spent at least

one month on board together, it would probably resolve most of their problems and discussions on the ground.

AMANPOUR: Well, you've given me and the whole world now a whole great program. Maybe we should send them all up to space and they can solve all

the world's problems up there, like you're working so hard.

What are some of the real kind of hardships, for instance, physically?

I understand you have to really work out hard in order not to atrophy, for your muscles not to break down.

KELLY: Yes, our bodies are pretty smart, you know. They recognize in this microgravity environment that you don't need your skeleton to hold all your

stuff together. So we lose bone mass because we don't need it. And likewise with your muscles.

So we have to do exercise to prevent that from happening.

But there are other hardships, too, up here that we -- you know, we deal with them and we understand it and but the fact that you can't go outside,

I mean, you can occasionally do a spacewalk, but that's not like walking outside in the fresh air or at least a different -- the kind of air that

you experience --


KELLY: -- on a daily basis.

The space station is nice but there's no running water. You can't take a shower. The diet is -- gets pretty routine. So all that is something that

we've learned to live with. But we still understand that it's a big privilege to represent our countries up here.

AMANPOUR: Scott and Mikhail, I know we don't have a huge amount of time. I can see one of your colleagues behind you, who's sort of dancing and

floating around in zero gravity, doing whatever he's doing there.

Can you do something for us?

Can you flip?

Can you dance?

What do you like to do for exercise up there?

Both of you.


AMANPOUR: Oh, my goodness.


All right.

KELLY: So that's not much exercise. But it's fun.

AMANPOUR: Well, Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko, thank you so much for joining us from space today.

It's a big one for me today.


KELLY: Our pleasure, Christiane. Thanks for allowing us to be on your program.

AMANPOUR: Thank you for joining us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Station, this is Houston ACR. That concludes the event. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: You just saw our interview but it was no easy feat, especially making sure that we managed to catch the only available window as the space

station passed overhead. Here's our little window into how it was done.



BEN KIRBY, PRODUCER (voice-over): Usually we do live shots from pretty remote places. We've done ones from the middle of Nigeria, in the middle

of the rain forest but we've never before done a live shot from space.

We have to wait for the ISS to get into a position where they can receive the signal and then finally we have a tight 10-minute window to speak to

the astronaut and the cosmonaut who are on board the International Space Station.

NASA, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Hi, there, we're about, oh, 33 minutes to the start of your event.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): It's incredibly nervewracking and it's really exciting. You know, of course, like many people my age, my mom woke me up

to watch the moon landing of Neil Armstrong.

And I have been fascinated by space ever since. I wanted to be the first woman in space and then the first journalist in space. And I'll never make

that, so this is about as close as I'm going to be able to get.

Well, I'm just practicing because I have to say something very specific to reach the International Space Station.

I have to say...

Station, this is CNN.

How do you hear me?

KELLY: We hear you loud and clear. Welcome aboard the space station.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Speaking to someone on the space station is no easy feat. With help from some NASA wizardry, we managed to do just that.

Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko, thank you so much for joining us from space today.

KELLY: Our pleasure, Christiane, thanks for allowing us to be on your program.

AMANPOUR: Thank you for joining us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Houston, this is Houston ACR, that concludes the event, thank you.

AMANPOUR: I love it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Station, we're now resuming operational audio communications.

AMANPOUR: That was the favorite thing that I have done all year, guys. Oh, my God. I wish I could flip. I'm going to try to flip like that now.



AMANPOUR: When we come back, we speak to a veteran of the International Space Station, a woman and a record breaker. My conversation with the

Italian astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti. That's next.





AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. And now to a space station alumna. A few months ago, we spoke to the Italian astronaut, Samantha

Cristoforetti, who had just returned from traveling 84 million miles in 199 days.

The charismatic Cristoforetti has well and truly shattered the glass stratosphere, completing the longest mission of any European Space Agency

astronaut and of any woman. She's also gone viral on social media, having brewed the first espresso in space. Here is our interview with the woman

who fell back to Earth.


AMANPOUR: Samantha Cristoforetti, welcome to the program.

SAMANTHA CRISTOFORETTI, EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY ASTRONAUT: Thank you. Thanks for having me. It's an honor.

AMANPOUR: So after really breaking this record of such endurance and longevity and space, how does it feel being back on Earth?

Was it hard to adjust?

CRISTOFORETTI: It is. It's a little bit hard. In fact, I think it was easier to adapt to being in space than it is to come back. Gravity can be

tough for the first few days. I really felt like I had a giant that wanted to squeeze me on the ground.

And then you have to get used to a more complex environment and the space station is technically a challenge. It's a challenging place to work in.

But we are very much trained for all the science we do up there and all the technical work. But on Earth, of course, you have a lot of more little

things that you have to deal with.

And believe it or not, it's hard to learn how to do those after you had not --having had to do that for several months.

AMANPOUR: What was hardest to adapt to when you got back?

CRISTOFORETTI: Well, really, at the very beginning, simply walking was difficult. I mean, it was hurting, it was tiring after walking just a

little bit. I really felt like I wanted to lay down because if you think about it, when you are in space and you're floating and that's wonderful to


But it's really like you're laying down. You're not carrying your weight around. So just carrying my own weight the first few days was incredibly


AMANPOUR: Have you been following as everybody else has NASA's Pluto mission?

CRISTOFORETTI: Yes, I have. I've been following as my schedule's a little bit busy these days. But I've been following as much as I could. And

that was just exciting.

I mean, things that we have, a prober, a robot, which is really our eyes, that the eyes of humanity out there and we're able to take a peek 3 billion

miles away from home, it's just mind boggling.

AMANPOUR: You are an Air Force captain. You're also now an astronaut. You always wanted to fly.

Did you ever think that you'd fly like this?

What was that like?

What was the sensation like?

CRISTOFORETTI: Oh, I loved it from absolutely the very moment. It's like -- especially if you've dreamed of flying all your life and there's

different ways of flying, like I'm a pilot and then of course you need an airplane and you have an interface between you and the environment, which

is the airplane. And it's wonderful.

But when your own body is able to fly all the time, you're like Superman up there. It's like -- I call it an explosion of freedom. The sensation of

lightness, of liberty, you're inhabiting your space in the three dimensions. If you want, you can have dinner on the ceiling and have a

chat on the wall with your colleagues. It's just -- I loved it and I do miss it a lot.

AMANPOUR: Dinner on the ceiling, it sounds good.

You also, because of the kinds of things you say and the way you say them, you attracted a lot of followers. You have hundreds of thousands on

Twitter, a lot of people following you, you know, the wonderful classic picture of your espresso.

And what sort of dialogue were you having with mere mortals back on Earth?

What do you think made you so attractive to them up there?

CRISTOFORETTI: A few of us, we are lucky enough that we actually get to go there. But space exploration is really a collective endeavor. I like to

call the space station my humanities outpost in space. And it's one of the first steps that we are making as human beings, of humanity, to become a

space sparing species.

And I really hope that as many people as possible, maybe a little bit also through me, felt involved and felt that they were part of it.

AMANPOUR: Well, you did a lot of training, a lot of experiments; a lot of what you were doing was part of the exploration and the eventual, I guess,

travel to Mars.

Do you really want to colonize space?

Is that where we're headed?

CRISTOFORETTI: I think all of us, if they try to imagine humanity in 500 years, they will imagine a civilization that is able to travel to space,

that inhabits other planets as well, that is not just confined to our home world.


And so to me it's inevitable. And it's just -- now it's about making those first steps, of having the courage of taking those first steps. And then

we go from there.

AMANPOUR: And presumably you would want to go to Mars.

CRISTOFORETTI: I would love to have the chance, yes.

AMANPOUR: And when you were up there in space, we had a little controversy down here on Earth about women in science.

A very well respected Nobel scientist basically declared that women in the lab were an occupational hazard because we fall in love with them, he said,

as a man, they fall in love with us and then they cry when they're criticized.

What do you say about women in the lab and women scientists?

Is that really a place for a woman like you?

CRISTOFORETTI: Yes, yes. I think so. And I'd really like to try and encourage as much as possible -- boys of course as well, but especially

girls to give science and technology a chance.

Sometimes, especially, unfortunately, girls don't really get the chance, don't -- I like to try and encourage them to stay open and to allow

themselves to be captivated by the beauty and the fascination of science and technology.

Maybe it's not as immediate, as enjoying, for example, a work of literature, or a work of art, but if you try and get beyond that threshold,

if you make that little effort, then it's just as fascinating when you're understanding how our world works.

AMANPOUR: And from your home country, from Italy, the pope made a huge declaration on the climate a few weeks ago. And you have taken a lot of

pictures from space of our planet Earth.

What do you see that makes you think of the climate and the survival of planet Earth when you're so many -- I think -- millions of miles above us?


CRISTOFORETTI: Well, I'm not quite that far. The space station --

AMANPOUR: How many?


CRISTOFORETTI: -- it's about 400 kilometers --


CRISTOFORETTI: -- we're not that far.

But still, even from that distance, you have a very immediate perception of the fact that we are all traveling on this planet Earth, which is really

like a spaceship. Everybody's a crew member, which means that we have to take responsibility and we have to work hard.

And everybody makes mistakes. And sometimes we cause trouble just by making mistakes. And you're allowed to make mistakes because we're humans.

But we're not allowed to be unaware or careless.

And just in the same way, you know, all human beings are crew members on Spaceship Earth. And we cannot be unaware and we cannot be careless. We

are crew members. We have to have the awareness. We have to have the understanding of our impact on the environment, on our spaceship.

And we also have to understand that, just like on the space station, I came back. Another crew is up there and I had a responsibility of leaving them

a spaceship in good shape. Well, we're also here on this planet just for a short time. And then another generation will come. And we have a

responsibility to leave them a Spaceship Earth which is in good shape.

AMANPOUR: Crew members on Spaceship Earth, that is really well put.

Finally, what was your creature comfort?

What did you miss most on Earth that you wanted to have up in space?

CRISTOFORETTI: Well, I think probably a shower. That's pretty much on the top of my list. After you've been up there for a few months, just washing

your skin with wet towels and stuff like that, you're really craving that sense of cleanliness that you get from having water flowing on your body.

AMANPOUR: All right. Samantha Cristoforetti, thank you so much indeed for joining us.

CRISTOFORETTI: Thank you so much, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And after a break, how space gives a unique perspective on all sorts of earthly matters, such as the dangers facing our climate. A

warning from the stars, next.





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, space gives a unique perspective on the world's problems as we've seen. During the Paris climate summit at the end

of this year, astronauts and cosmonauts, including ones who we interviewed for tonight's program, released a message to encourage world leaders, who

were negotiating right here on planet Earth.



COMMANDER SCOTT KELLY, ASTRONAUT (voice-over): It's an honor for us to be with you today. Your actions during this important meeting will send a

message to the world on how we regard the future of our home planet.

NAOKO YAMAZAKI, ASTRONAUT (voice-over): The view from space is just breathtaking. And at the same time we recognize deforestations and

wildfires and so on, which are related to climate changes.

NICOLE STOTT, ASTRONAUT (voice-over): The one thing that we all wish, though, is that groups like yours could be holding your meeting today in

space, with the beautiful horizon-to-horizon view of our planet as your backdrop.

It would be an awe-inspiring distraction for sure. But there would be nothing better for reinforcing the significance of what you're doing there

together today.

MICHAEL LOPEZ-ALEGRIA, ASTRONAUT (from captions): The moment is now when we reach a binding agreement at the COP 21 conference in Paris 2015.

DAN BARRY, PH.D., ASTRONAUT: Our atmosphere connects us all. What happens in Africa affects North America. What happens in North America affects


LOREN ACTON, PH.D., ASTRONAUT: There is no argument about global climate models. The basic balance of energy says that if we put greenhouse gases

in the atmosphere of a planet, it's going to heat up.

GREG LINTERIS, PH.D., ASTRONAUT: This is the biggest problem the world has to face right now. And we're at a point now where we really have to take

action and do -- make the changes to try to ward off the worst effects which might come down the pike.

KJELL LINDGREN, M.D., ASTRONAUT: And all of us on the space station wish you good luck and great success.

Whether you are a government, a business, a university or an individual, you can make a difference. Thank you.



AMANPOUR: Wise words indeed. And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can now always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching. And good-bye from London.