Christina Koch set a record for breaking the longest single spaceflight by a woman and conduction the first all-female spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir. She returned to Earth early on February 6, 2020.
During her time in space, she spent a total of 328 days 13 hours and 58 minutes in space, completed eight spacewalks, and spent 42 hours and 15 minutes outside of the International Space Station. She was only supposed to spend only 6 months aboard the ISS, but NASA’s commercial crew program prompted the agency to ask her top stay even longer.
Christina Koch is an electrical engineer from North Carolina and graduated from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2002, then became a graduate of the NASA Academy program. Koch worked as an electrical engineer on the International Space Station. Koch went under medical tests during her stay to better understand how gravity affects humans during long-term spaceflight.
Koch launched on March 14, 2019, and during her stay, she completed 5,248 orbits around the Earth and traveled an astounding 139 million miles, the equivalent of 291 trips to the moon and back. When she landed back on Earth, she landed in a remote, frozen desert in the middle of Kazakhstan, about 7,000 miles from the headquarters of America’s human space program. For many years America’s astronauts have been taking off and landing on the desolate landscape in Kazakhstan.
NASA aims to return humans to the moon within the next few years with the new Space Shuttle Program Artemis, where the programs are preparing to send “the next man and the first woman” back to the moon as early as 2024, says Jim Bridenstine, the NASA Administrator.
Bridenstine also says, “it was in the best interest of the program to follow this schedule and optimize the use of the space station. … We love breaking records, but we don’t have to break records for the sake of breaking records.”