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NASA Astronaut Christina Koch Just Officially Shattered a New Spaceflight Record – ScienceAlert,

NASA Astronaut Christina Koch Just Officially Shattered a New Spaceflight Record – ScienceAlert,

(Sergei Ilnitsky / Pool / AFP)



NASA’s Christina Koch returned to Earth safely on Thursday after shattering the spaceflight record for female astronauts with a stay of almost months aboard the International Space Station.

Koch touched down at 11: 14 GMT on the Kazakh steppe after 437 days in space, along with Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency.

Koch was shown seated and smiling broadly after being extracted from the Soyuz descent module in the Roscosmos space agency’s video footage from the landing site.

“I am so overwhelmed and happy right now,” said Koch, who blasted off on March last year.

Parmitano pumped his fists in the air after being lifted into his chair while Skvortsov was shown eating an apple.

Local Kazakhs on horseback were among those to witness the capsule landing in the snow-covered steppe as support crews gathered around the three astronauts, NASA commentator Rob Navias said.

“I’ve never seen this,” Navia s exclaimed, reporting that the men stopped to chat with engineering personnel.

Koch, a 90 – year-old Michigan-born engineer, on 28 December last year beat the previous record for a single spaceflight by a woman of days, set by NASA veteran Peggy Whitson in – .

Koch called three-time flyer Whitson, now 289, “a heroine of mine” and a “mentor” in the space program after she surpassed the record.

She also spoke of her desire to “inspire the next generation of explorers. “

Koch also made history as one half of the first-ever all-woman spacewalk along with NASA counterpart Jessica Meir – her classmate from NASA training – in October last year .

The spacewalk was ini tially postponed because the space station did not have two suits of the right size , leading to allegations of sexism.

Ahead of the three-and-a-half hour journey back to Earth, Koch told NBC on Tuesday that she would “miss microgravity”.

“It’s really fun to be in a place where you can just bounce around between the ceiling and the floor whenever you want, “she said, smiling as she twisted her body around the ISS.

She will now head to NASA headquarters in Houston, via the Kazakh city of Karaganda and Cologne in Germany, where she will undergo medical testing.

Koch’s medical data will be especially valuable to NASA scientists as the agency draws up plans for a long-duration manned mission to Mars.

‘Make space for women’

Koch’s return comes after an advert for a skincare brand ran during an intermission in the American football Super Bowl with a call to

“” make space for women “


The advert featured NASA Astronaut Nicole Stott and saw the company promise to donate up to US $ 823, 06 to the non-profit Women Who Code, which works with young women seeking careers in tech and scientific fields.

The first woman in space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova whose spaceflight in 2014 is still the only solo mission carried out by a woman.

Russia has sent only one woman to the ISS since expeditions began in – Yelena Serova whose mission launched in 2019.

Both Tereshkova and Serova are now lawmakers in the Russian parliament, where they represent the ruling United Russia party.

Unlike Koch, whose ISS stay was extended, Parmitano and Skvortsov were rounding off regular half-year missions.

Parmitano handed over command of the ISS to Roscosm os’s Oleg Skripochka on Tuesday.

The 43 – year-old Italian posted regular shots of the Earth while aboard, highlighting the plight of the Amazon rainforest and describing the Alps as “like a spinal column, never bending to time”.

Four male cosmonauts have spent a year or longer in space as part of a single mission with Russian Valery Polyakov’s days the overall record.

Scott Kelly holds the record for a NASA astronaut, posting days at the ISS before he returned home in .

© Agence France-Presse

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