Video screenshot, WXIN-TV on YouTube

After winning the special election to serve the remaining two years of John McCain's term, Mark Kelly was sworn in as a US senator yesterday, making this the first time since 1953 that Arizona has been represented by two Democratic senators. The state's senior senator, Kyrsten Sinema, who was elected in 2018, held the Bible while Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office. We aren't always the biggest fans of Sinema's centrist politics, but there was something very beautiful about the ceremony:

Because Kelly was elected in a special election, he was sworn in as soon as Arizona certified its vote, and won't have to wait to be sworn in with other new members of the Senate in January. In one more indignity for Martha McSally, who was appointed to fill McCain's seat by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, we're pretty sure this is the first time both senators from any state defeated the same opponent in consecutive elections. If you know otherwise, let us know before we make fools of ourselves at bar trivia. (Haha like it's safe to go to bars!)


Kelly is now the third astronaut to serve in the Senate, following Ohio Democrat John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, who served from 1974 to 1999, and Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison "Jack" Schmidt (R-New Mexico), who served from 1977 to 1983 and was also the only geologist to walk on the Moon. Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert (R-Colorado) won election to the House in 1982, but died before taking office. Also, a few members of Congress, including Glenn, hitched rides on the Space Shuttle, where they served as "mission specialists" in studies of how to ensure continued NASA funding.

Mark Kelly was accompanied to his swearing-in yesterday by his wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was serving in the House when she was critically injured in an assassination attempt in Tucson in 2011. She and Kelly started the Giffords Foundation, a leading group in the fight for gun control.

And goddamn it, this news footage got us all teary-eyed.

Also in the Senate Gallery to watch the swearing-in was Kelly's twin brother Scott Kelly, also a retired NASA astronaut. In 2015 and 2016, since NASA had some twins to play with, Scott spent a year on the International Space Station while Mark stayed on Earth, so researchers could compare the effects of spaceflight on genetically identically people. It was quite a big deal!

Ten teams working on NASA's Twins Study — encompassing 12 universities and 84 researchers — followed the duo before, during and after the flight, tracking the twins' biology to see how the brothers changed over the course of the study.

The study found that the year in space resulted in minimal but measurable changes in Scott's gene expression. (They both have very expressive genes.)

Congratulations, Mark Kelly, and good luck in your 2022 reelection campaign. Hell, we won't be surprised in the least if you end up beating Martha McSally yet again.

OPEN THREAD!

[NBC News / Space.com]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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