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.

With only several days remaining in his mission, his twin brother, Mark Kelly, decided to send him a special package.

“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.’”

Scott Kelly
Instagram

Mark, a retired NASA astronaut and now an Arizona senator, vacuum-packed the costume and sent it with a cargo delivery on an unmanned SpaceX mission. However, it exploded in June 2015.

But that didn’t stop Mark from sending him another gorilla suit. Luckily, the second time was successful.

In a Twitter video posted in February 2016, Scott shared how he had fun with the costume. The clip shows him in a gorilla suit popping out of a big white bag and chasing fellow astronaut Tim Peake, who frantically gets away in zero gravity.

Scott Kelly wearing a gorilla suit on the International Space Station
Twitter

A Twitter user shared the rib-tickling footage on January 9 but mistakenly credited Mark as the suit’s wearer. Soon after, the clip started making rounds 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 received hundreds of thousands of likes and 9.1 million views 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
Twitter

“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 eight days away from returning to Earth then, so he wanted to have a bit of 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
Instagram

Scott pranked other crew members who had no idea about the gorilla suit. At one point, he hid in a colleague’s sleeping quarters. When the poor guy went to open the door, Scott busted out of there. The latter was a little worried he “could have given him a heart attack or something” because of how shocked he was.

He also surprised Russian astronauts aboard the space station by showing up in the costume.

“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
Instagram

But according to NASA, Mark had the gorilla costume delivered to surprise Scott when they 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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