NASA astronaut, Christina Koch, returns to earth after historic 328-day mission in space

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By STEM Caribbean | Posted on February 8, 2020

This week, NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned to earth safely alongside Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, and astronaut Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency. Koch now holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman.  According to NASA, she orbited the Earth 5,248 times on a journey of 139 million miles. This journey is almost the same as going to the Moon and back 291 times. Koch’s 328-day stay in space is her first journey into space, which is the second-longest single spaceflight by an American astronaut in history.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch is helped out of the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft just minutes after she, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, landed their Soyuz MS-13 capsule in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

During her time living and working aboard the International Space Station, Koch supported NASA’s goals to land humans on the Moon and explore Mars in the future. She participated in more than 210 investigations and several studies, including how extended periods in space affect the human body. Koch also made history by completing the first all-female spacewalk in October of last year.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch worked while tethered near the Port 6 truss segment of the International Space Station to replace older hydrogen-nickel batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries, during the October 11, 2019, spacewalk. Fellow NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan (out of frame) assisted Koch during the six-hour and 45-minute spacewalk. Image credit: NASA

Koch graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Physics and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University in the United States.  In 2013, NASA selected her as an astronaut, and in 2015, she completed the astronaut candidate training. Before 2013, Koch’s work included space science instrument development and research.

NASA’s rigorous training programs prepare astronauts for their missions, which include a thoroughly planned lifestyle and work schedule while living in space. Upon returning to the earth, astronauts participate in a rehabilitation and reconditioning program.

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