A video, first uploaded to Twitter by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s twin brother, Mark, under the hashtag #ApeInSpace, shows how astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in low Earth orbit are apparently under attack by a furious space gorilla.
The video begins with a massive gorilla leaping furiously from out of a white box placed in the middle of the station. It chases British astronaut Time Peake, who floats around in the space station as he runs for his life, with the angry gorilla in hot pursuit.
But what UFO hunters may have declared to be video evidence of a space gorilla anomaly actually shows U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly pranking his colleague in an ape suit sent to the ISS by his twin brother, Mark.
The commotion that ensued onboard the ISS after the angry space ape escaped from the white box was just Kelly’s crazy idea of a prank to liven up the drudgery of life in the space station and to celebrate the end of his #YearInSpace, after tweeting heartily on Monday, he has “8 days to go.”
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) February 23, 2016
Needed a little humor to lighten up a #YearInSpace. Go big, or go home. I think I’ll do both. #SpaceApe
NASA estimates that it costs about $10,000 to send one pound of payload into orbit. Quartz calculates after consulting Amazon, that with the average gorilla costume weighing about 4.3 pounds, it may have cost NASA about $43,000 to send the ape suit up to the ISS.
A $43,000 space gorilla prank might seem rather extravagant, but according to NASA officials, the agency purposefully sets aside a budget for entertainment on ISS and astronauts’ friends and family may send a limited amount of cargo to the station.
— Mark Kelly (@ShuttleCDRKelly) February 22, 2016
NASA places priority on maintaining astronauts’ morale in the space station by providing means for diversion as a way of easing the tedium of long stays in orbit that make astronauts prone to psychological issues, such as loneliness and extreme homesickness.
The sheer terror of a gorilla on the loose in the cramped space of the space station must have given Peake an opportunity to exercise.
Commander Scott Kelly is scheduled to return to Earth on Tuesday, March 1, after a year aboard the International Space Station (ISS). During the year, he traveled a total of 144 million miles around Earth and performed hundreds of experiments. He also posted hundreds of photos to his social media accounts.
Kelly became known among space buffs for his frequent and engaging posts to Twitter, which included stunning images and videos of Earth from space, first flowers to bloom in space, and a video of ISS astronauts paying tribute to David Bowie.
He uploaded to Twiter on November 16, 2015, a photo that went viral in the UFO community after bloggers claimed it showed a “glowing metallic, cigar-shaped UFO” hovering near the ISS. The claim was later debunked by experts who showed that the alleged “metallic cigar-shaped UFO” was in fact part of the space station projecting from the main body in front of the camera.
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) November 15, 2015
Kelly is not the only astronaut aboard the ISS completing a #YearInSpace this week. Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will also complete a year in space this week. He is expected to return to Earth with Kelly on March 1. Both astronauts launched from Earth on March 27, 2015, and would have spent 342 days in space by the time they return to Earth on March 1.
Kelly broke the record for cumulative days spent in space by an American astronaut on October 2015, about 520 days, according to NASA.
Data collected during his long stay in orbit will contribute to research studies on the effects of long-term spaceflight on the body.
[Image via NASA]