Scott Kelly — Lessons Learned from 500+ Days in Space, Life-Changing Books, and The Art of Making Hard Choices (#478)

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“If the Earth was flat, wouldn’t the edge be the most popular tourist attraction on Earth? I would just go set up a taco truck and make a billion dollars with my edge-of-the-Earth tacos.”

— Scott Kelly

Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) is a former military fighter pilot and test pilot, an engineer, a retired astronaut, and a retired US Navy captain. A veteran of four space flights, Scott commanded the International Space Station (ISS) on three expeditions and was a member of the yearlong mission aboard the ISS, the single longest space mission by an American astronaut. In October 2015, he set the American record for the total accumulated number of days spent in space.

Go for Launch: How to Dream, Lead, and Achieve is Scott’s two-hour audio course available exclusively on Knowable. In this candid and entertaining audio course, Scott shares instructive stories from his childhood in New Jersey, his days as a US Navy test pilot, and his year hurtling around the globe at 17,500 mph and teaches hard-earned lessons on perseverance, personal motivation, and the human side of success, drawn from his experiences in the most competitive, extreme environments imaginable. You can find it now at

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear another episode with someone who has a fascination with space? Listen to my conversation with Columbia physics and astronomy professor Janna Levin in which we discuss youthful indiscretion, omnivorous reading, Möbius strips, philosophy 101, UFOs, and much more.


  • Connect with Scott Kelly:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Note from the editor: Timestamps will be added shortly.

  • Lesson excerpt: the smartest person on the mission.
  • Scott tells us how his mom was breaking boundaries right here on Earth in West Orange, New Jersey during the 1960s, and how it inspired his brother and him to aim high (really high!) with their own ambitions.
  • Many astronauts come from an elite pool of overachievers, but as someone who graduated from high school among the lower half of his peers, Scott was atypical in this respect. What catalyzed his course correction?
  • Self-describing as “a below-average guy performing at an above-average level,” how did Scott find the right approach to sustaining the momentum necessary to succeed?
  • How did Scott begin to put his plans in action, and what did his twin brother Mark — who also went on to become an astronaut and a senator — do to nudge further correction to a course that might have otherwise faltered when there was a choice to be made between going to a frat party and studying for a calculus test?
  • Can Scott point to any failures that set him up for later success?
  • Incidentally, how does flying an F-14 Tomcat differ from flying a space shuttle?
  • What books has Scott most gifted to others?
  • On scientific literacy, taco trucks, and how someone might develop a larger capacity to separate fact from fiction.
  • What would it really take to expand humanity’s presence beyond Earth to — for example — Mars, and why is it important even if it shouldn’t be seen as a “plan b” for our collective future should we fail in the stewardship of Earth?
  • Why did Scott produce Go For Launch on Knowable, and what does he hope people will take away from it?
  • What would Scott’s billboard say?
  • In space, no one can hear you cry.
  • Parting thoughts.


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.