NASA astronaut Christina Koch has just returned to Earth safely from the International Space Station. Two other astronauts who also landed on the Earth along with Koch are European Space Agency’s Luca Parmitano and Russia’s Alexander Skvortsov. The three boarded a Soyuz capsule docked at the ISS. The capsule landed safely as planned near Dzhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan. All three astronauts were taken to nearby recliners and bundled in blankets for initial medical checks. Koch celebrated with a thumbs-up when she was lifted out of the Soyuz capsule. An electrical engineer for NASA, Koch worked on scientific instruments for the US space agency’s several missions. She became an astronaut in 2013.
Koch stayed at the ISS for 328 consecutive days, becoming the US astronaut with the second-longest stay in space. Scott Kelley holds the record for the longest consecutive amount of days spent in space by an American astronaut. The now-retired astronaut spent 340 days aboard the ISS. Koch is now the woman astronaut with the longest stay in space worldwide. She surpassed fellow US astronaut Peggy Whitson. Whitson spent 289 days in the space. According to NASA, Koch’s tour included 5,248 orbits of the Earth. She traversed a total distance of 139 million miles in terms of how far the ISS traveled when Koch was on board.
Koch also spent time outside the International Space Station. As reported by NASA, she completed six spacewalks. The spacewalks also include the record-setting first-ever spacewalk involving all women. Koch arrived at the ISS on March 14 in 2018. She was expected to be on a typical six-month mission. But the US space agency extended her stay to collect more data about the effects of long-duration spaceflight. The data will contribute to the success of future space missions and help the agency to pave the way for future trips to the Moon and Mars under the Artemis program. The astronaut made observations from the ISS’ Cupola, an ESA built observatory module.