NASA Astronaut Christina Koch Breaks Record for Longest Female Spaceflight

Expedition 61 Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Christina Koch handles media bags that enable the manufacturing of organ-like tissues using the BioFabrication Facility (BFF), a 3-D biological printer. The BFF could become a part of a larger system capable of manufacturing whole, fully-functioning human organs from existing patient cells in microgravity, in this photo taken on Dec. 22, 2019. Credit: NASA

For and RocketSTEM

Cape Canaveral, FL – NASA astronaut Christina Koch has broken the record for the longest single spaceflight by a female spaceflyer this past week on Saturday Dec. 28 when she broke the record of 289 continuous days in space while living and working aboard the International Space Station (ISS) during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season.

Koch eclipsed the female space endurance record held until then by NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson – who happily congratulated her.

Overall Koch’s mission is expected to last a total of 328 days when she returns to Earth in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in just about 5 weeks on February 6, 2020.

That will be just 12 days short of the longest US human spaceflight on a single mission – held by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and established during the 1 year mission back in 2015 and 2016.

Christina Koch launched to the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on March 14, 2019.

Her stay onboard the ISS was extended partway through her mission due to continuing delays in launching US astronauts to the space station aboard the Crew Dragon and Starliner commercial crew vessels – as well as obtaining more data on longer term human stays in space required before sending crews on multiyear long missions to Mars and back.

Here’s more about Christina Koch in a NASA video tweet:

Here’s Peggy Whitson heartily congratulating Koch – stating:

“Records are made to be broken … it is a sign of progress! Congrats @Astro_Christina”

Whiston still holds the US record for cumulative time in space of almost 666 days over 5 flights.

“It’s a huge honor,” Koch said in a live TV interview on Dec. 27 with ‘CBS This Morning.’

“Peggy is a heroine of mine who’s also been kind enough to mentor me through the years. You know … it’s not so much how many days you’re up here, but what you do with each of those days. That reminds me to bring my best every single day.”

“Overall, I’d have to say that my number one hope for this milestone is that the record is exceeded again as soon as possible. Because that means that we’re continuing to push the boundaries.”

“My class was … the first class that’s half female and half male, and we were never held to any different standards or expectations,” Koch elaborated to ‘CBS This Morning.’

“Highlighting the fact that it was the first all-female EVA, spacewalk, is important because seeing those milestones be broken sort of tells people where we’re at and where we think that the importance lies.”

“I think it’s inspiring because future space explorers do need to see people that remind them of themselves to kind of bring that inspiration home. I know that was certainly true for me and my background. So to have the opportunity to do that for future space explorers is a real honor.”

Koch also tweeted thanks to Whitson for mentoring her:

Back in October the dynamic duo of NASA women astronauts – Christina Koch and Jessica Meir – made history on Oct. 18 when they carried out and successfully completed history’s 1st all-female spacewalk soaring some 250 miles (400 km) above Earth while working and floating outside the International Space Station (ISS) on a critical job to swap out a failed power distribution unit and thereby restored full power to the orbiting research complex – all the while generating enormous global interest from the public.

During the 7-hour, 17-minute history making spacewalk the female pair – both on their rookie space flights – swapped out and replaced a faulty 230 pound power controller component, known as a battery charge-discharge unit (BCDU), with a new one.

NASA spacewalkers Christina Koch (foreground, suit with red stripe) and Jessica Meir (suit with no stripes) replaced a failed battery charge-discharge unit with a new one during a 7-hour, 17-minute spacewalk on Oct. 18, 2019 outside the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

Koch is setting the long duration record while on her first spaceflight.

She was selected as an astronaut – along with Meir – in 2013 as part of the first group of astronaut candidates equally divided between men and women.

While setting her spaceflight endurance record,  Koch and the six person multinational crew aboard the ISS also wished everyone back on Earth Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Expedition 61 Christmas Message: Although the astronauts aboard the International Space Station are spending the holidays apart from their families, they have the holiday spirit — and more than just a few of the most important festive supplies. Commander Luca Parmitano and NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Drew Morgan and Jessica Meir share their message for the holidays wrapping up 2019. Credit: NASA

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Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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