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Former astronaut Scott Kelly dishes on his love for Corvettes

Is there really any comparison to launching a car and launching a rocket? Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly says yes, and that he's not worried about the lack of a manual transmission.

You don't have to be a Top Gun fan to know that US naval aviators have a need for speed, and retired Navy Capt. Scott Kelly is certainly no exception. After more than a decade flying jets like the A-4 Skyhawk and the F-14 Tomcat, Kelly graduated to something even faster: the Space Shuttle. But believe it or not, Kelly's many extraterrestrial endeavors haven't diminished his love for four-wheeled performance machines, specifically the Chevy Corvette.

Kelly has been lucky enough to own two of the things, a 2007 previously and now a 2018 Stingray Convertible. "I've always been a big Corvette fan," Kelly told me at the C8 launch last week. "As a kid I had the Corvette poster on my wall. Later, I got to the point where I could get my own, and I look forward to maybe getting this one here when it comes out." 

"This one here" is a reference to the new mid-engine Corvette, unveiled to the world just a few hours after our conversation. He made no bones about being impressed by the latest 'vette, even if it won't offer a manual transmission. "I'm a manual guy," Kelly told me. "They tell me that I wouldn't be disappointed ... hopefully I would like it."

And can you really compare launching a Corvette, which will now do 0-60 in less than 3 seconds, to launching a rocket into space? "I think there's a big comparison. [The Corvette] probably tops out somewhere below 200 mph, and a rocket right around 17,500. But if you're going to drive around on a public road, that's probably fast enough."

Fast enough indeed -- at least until the mid-engine flavor of the ZR1 hits the streets, anyway.