The Journey Ahead

3 minute read

We don’t often face fashion challenges at our cover shoots, but this one was an exception. For starters, we are featuring what might be the most expensive suit on–or off–the planet at more than $12 million. And it weighs more than the person wearing it. But then the suit is designed for the International Space Station, where it weighs nothing.

TIME has been in the lives and living rooms of America’s astronauts since the days of the Mercury program more than half a century ago. Our Year Ahead special issue seemed to be just the opportunity to bring that access and experience to bear again, because of all the challenges that await us in 2015, Scott Kelly faces the most extraordinary one. In an effort to understand the impact of long-term space travel on the human body, Scott will spend a year in orbit while scientists monitor his twin brother Mark, a former astronaut, on Earth. “The Kelly brothers offer NASA the chance to run the perfect controlled experiment–comparing two genetically identical bodies in two very different environments,” observes Jeff Kluger, who wrote our story.

TIME will be following their adventures throughout the year–up in space but also back at mission control–in print, online and in a video series. We are entering a new age of exploration, driven by public and private enterprise, with a leap to Mars not only possible but probable. “While it’s common to think of America as in decline, as stagnant,” argues assistant managing editor Matt Vella, who oversaw this issue, “the truth is, the Kelly mission is asking questions we’ve never had the ambition to. This is happening across the world in science, medicine, politics and energy.” In each case, power devolves upon those who set out for new frontiers.

Nancy Gibbs, EDITOR


It’s good news for astronaut Scott Kelly, whose yearlong mission on the International Space Station will start on March 28 (see page 32), that stuff weighs less in space. At NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for TIME’s Dec. 2 cover shoot, Kelly (far left, with twin brother and former astronaut Mark Kelly and photographers Shaul Schwarz and Marco Grob) required multiple assistants to wriggle into his 250-lb., multipart suit–the top of which is held in place by a giant steel stander. “Harry Houdini would have been good at this,” he quipped, after finally popping his head through.


How smart are America’s best college- football players? As the playoffs loom, New America, the public-policy group, reordered the country’s top 25 teams according to academic performance. Here, a preview of the ranking available at

1. TCU Horned Frogs

2. UCLA Bruins

3. Alabama Crimson Tide


It’s official: TIME’s 2014 Instagram Photographer of the Year is Matt Black, whose gritty black-and-white images chart the physical terrain of poverty in his native Central Valley, California, like this one of crop-duster markers in Corcoran. For more on Black’s work, go to

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