Astronaut Scott Kelly reveals the story behind viral video of him in a gorilla suit aboard space station

Being in outer space didn’t stop this astronaut from pulling off some “monkey business.” Former astronaut Scott Kelly lived on the International Space Station for almost a year in 2015 and 2016.

His mission was over, and Mark Kelly, his twin brother, decided to send him a special gift.

“I was on the phone with my brother one day and he said, ‘Hey, I’m sending you a gorilla suit,’” Scott, now 57, told PEOPLE. “And I said, ‘Why?’ And he goes, ‘Because there’s never been a gorilla in space before.’”


Mark, a former NASA astronaut and Arizona senator, vacuum packed the costume and sent it along with a cargo delivery on an Unmanned SpaceX Mission. It exploded in June 2015.

But that didn’t stop Mark from sending him another gorilla suit. The second time was a success.

Scott shared in a tweet that he enjoyed the costume. The clip shows Scott wearing a gorilla costume and running after fellow astronaut Tim Peake. He frantically escapes in zero gravity.

Scott Kelly wearing a gorilla suit on the International Space Station

A Twitter user shared the rib-tickling footage on January 9 but mistakenly credited Mark as the suit’s wearer. Soon, the clip began to circulate online.

“Astronaut Mark Kelly once smuggled a full gorilla suit on board the International Space Station. He didn’t tell anyone about it. One day, without anyone knowing, he put it on,” Twitter user Todd Spence wrote.

The video has been liked hundreds of thousands of times and seen 9.1 million times on Twitter. It’s also been shared by several Reddit users on the platform, where it has also gained a similar number of upvotes.

Scott was surprised that the video is making rounds on the internet again after all these years, but he gets why it’s such a hit.

Scott Kelly in a gorilla suit chasing Tim Peake on the International Space Station

“Of course people liked it. How can you not like space gorilla?” he said.

As funny as it was, Tim’s reaction to the antic was all staged.

“That’s why he’s floating around, swimming in air, we wanted it to look funny,” Scott confessed.

He was only eight days away from returning home to Earth, so he wanted to have some fun.

“Needed a little humor to lighten up a #YearInSpace. Go big or go home. I think I’ll do both,” Scott captioned his Twitter post.

Scott Kelly upon returning from space in 2016

Scott played pranks on crew members who didn’t know about the gorilla suit. At one point, he hid in a colleague’s sleeping quarters. Scott escaped from the room when the poor man tried to open the door. The latter was a little worried he “could have given him a heart attack or something” because of how shocked he was.

The costume also made him a surprise for the Russian astronauts on the space station.

“I floated down to the Russian segment,” he recalled. “When they saw it, they were just laughing like you wouldn’t believe.”

Scott, a public speaker and author of “Endurance: My Year In Space, A Lifetime of Discovery” and “Goodnight Astronaut,” also made good use of the suit, recording an educational video from the ISS while dressed in the suit.

Astronaut Scott Kelly

NASA says that Scott was surprised by Mark’s gorilla costume when he turned 52 on February 21, 2016.

“I don’t remember that, but maybe that’s the case,” said Scott, who retired from the space agency later that year.

And if you’re curious about the gorilla suit’s whereabouts, it went out with the trash because Scott “didn’t want to be responsible for what anyone else would do with a gorilla suit in space.”

Here’s the giggle-inducing video for your viewing enjoyment.

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