On her maiden trip to the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Christina Koch broke the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, and for conducting the first all-female spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir. By Bayar Jain
They say, one should make the most of what one gets. NASA astronaut Christina Koch seems to have taken this proverb to her heart and squeezed in whatever she could during her recently concluded maiden voyage to the dark galaxies. This American-born engineer recently spent a record-breaking 328 days (almost 11 months) in space – the longest single spaceflight spent by a woman. The previous record was set by astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2016-17 for spending 289 days (approximately nine months) in space.
Moreover, she even conducted the first all-female spacewalk along with her fellow astronaut, Jessica Meir in October. They, then, completed two more all-female spacewalks in January.
The Soyuz MS-13 capsule, the craft which she was journeying in, touched down in Kazakhstan on February 6, 2020. Accompanying her for this Expedition 61 were European Luca Parmitano of Italy and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov. During the Expedition 61, all the crew members conducted experiments and replaced outdated technologies. The space station also doubles as an orbiting laboratory, which can be used to test how different aspects of everyday human life on Earth react to the lack of gravity in outer space.
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In a few moments, what’s in my hands will be in the vacuum of space. Working with Anne McClain prepping the platform of the facility airlock on @iss that allows us to move equipment and experiments between the inside and outside. Then, a robotic arm takes over and can install them almost anywhere on station.
Science aside, Koch also captured breathtakingly beautiful and mesmerising photographs of the Earth’s landscape and oceans from over 250 miles above. During her many orbits around the world – 5,248 to be precise – she covered a distance of 139 million miles. Now that she is back on planet Earth, she will head to the NASA headquarters in Houston, United States of America, wherein she will undergo medical testing. The data thus collected will help scientists draw up plans for a long-duration manned mission to Mars.