Longest Ever Single Spaceflight by a Woman
Christina Koch, a NASA scientist has recently returned to earth after her 328-day long stay in the space. By doing so, she has completed the longest ever single spaceflight by a woman and has surpassed the previous record held by Peggy Whitson. She was carried by the Russian Soyuz spacecraft which parachuted down to the grasslands of Kazakhstan. The all-time US record belongs to Scott Kelly who was on the International space center from 2015-2016 and Koch fell just 12 days short of the record. Shortly after the capsule landed in the snow, sitting outside the capsule, she told reporters, “I am so overwhelmed and happy right now.” She surpassed the 289-day record set by Peggy Whitson and has set the marker for future travelers to beat.
A Dream Came True
Koch traveled 223 million km and completed 5248 orbits of the earth during her mission, which is equal to 291 round trips to the moon from earth. On Soyuz, she returned with other two crew members, the Italian European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Skvortsov. They landed near Dzhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan.
“For me, it’s all about the honor I feel to follow in the footsteps of my heroes. I wanted to inspire the next generation of space explorers. It was important to see people that I saw a reflection of myself in. Growing up, when I was envisioning what I could do with my life and what my dreams might be. To maybe be that source of inspiration for someone else is just such an honor,” she told the journalists during live link-up from the ISS.
First All-Female Spacewalk
During her stay of nearly 11 months on the ISS, Koch was involved in another spaceflight milestone. Last year, she undertook the first all-female spacewalk alongside Jessica Meir. Replacing a failed power control unit, the pair spent seven hours outside the ISS. While recalling this historic event, Koch told, “When we first got the ‘go’ to come out of the airlock, and we ended up coming out, we were holding on to a handrail and we just caught each other’s eyes. We knew how special that moment was and I’ll never forget that.”