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.

Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Tim Stevens
2 min read

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." 

NASA astronauts and their Corvettes through the years

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"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.