Astronaut to Eclipse Record for Longest US Spaceflight by a Woman

Katie Ramirez
April 20, 2019

Koch is now part of NASA's Expedition 59 and 60 crews, which launched to the ISS last month.

NASA is studying how the human body reacts to extended stays in space. The all-time record belongs to Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov; he spent 437 days aboard the Mir space station from 1994 to 1995. That approaches but does not quite break Scott Kelly's 340 day US record. She will now be part of three expeditions, starting with Expedition 59, which is already going on, and ending with 61. Christina Koch, who reached the ISS on March 14 alongside Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague, is now expected to remain in orbit until February 2020, when she will return in a Soyuz spacecraft.

Christina Koch and Anne McClain were set for the spacewalk on March 29 which would have marked the first with only women in the International Space Station's 21-year history.

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, staying in orbit 288 days in 2016 and 2017, NASA said. The spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket about nine minutes after the blastoff, flying on its way to the space station, according to NASA's live broadcast. "This will enable successful exploration missions with healthy, performance-ready astronauts". She said it feels awesome having so much extra time in space and "a true honor and a dream come true".

"[The agency] is looking to build on what we have learned with additional astronauts in space for more than 250 days", said Jennifer Fogarty, NASA's chief scientist of the Human Research Program. Koch's extended stay on the ISS will provide the space agency will additional data for its Human Research Program, which could be used to support planned missions to the Moon and even to Mars. Meir will also head to the ISS this summer.

A month later, NASA's Andrew Morgan, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, and Roscosmos' Alexander Skvortsov are scheduled to join the mission, returning the ISS's crew to six. Morgan, who calls New Castle, Pennsylvania, home, was selected to be an astronaut in 2013, when he was serving as an emergency physician in the U.S. Army with sub-specialty certification in primary care sports medicine.

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