NASA astronaut Christina Koch has set a record for the longest spaceflight by a woman, and is finally returning to Earth, CNN reported. Koch, was announced to be a part of the first all-female spacewalk  which was scrapped over the lack of a right-sized spacesuit, reached on the International Space Station on March 14 for her spaceflight mission. She is scheduled to return on Thursday after 329 days. She surpassed the record held by Peggy Whitson. She had spent 288 days aboard the ISS in 2016-17.

Koch’s is the second-longest single spaceflight by any US astronaut, NASA said in a release.

The mission will help NASA get ready to go to Mars. “Koch’s extended mission will provide researchers with the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman as the agency plans to return to the Moon under the Artemis program and prepare for human exploration of Mars,” the release said adding that Koch has orbited the Earth 5,248 times during the mission. She conducted six space walks and spent a total of 42 hours and 15 minutes outside the station.

However, Koch wasn’t able to break the record of the longest spaceflight by a NASA astronaut — Scott Kelly, a record 340-day trip.

Key Takeaways:

  • NASA Astronaut Christina Koch is returning to Earth after the longest single spaceflight by a woman.
  • She is scheduled to return on Thursday after 329 days. She surpassed the record held by Peggy Whitson.
  • Koch’s is the second-longest single spaceflight by any US astronaut, NASA said in a release.
  • Koch has orbited the Earth 5,248 times, conducted six space walks and spent a total of 42 hours and 15 minutes outside the station.

Also Read: 56 year Old Peggy Whitson To Be Oldest Woman In Space

Record holders

Astronaut Peggy Whitson held the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman. She stayed in orbit for 288 days in 2016 and 2017. “It’s my honor to follow in Peggy’s footsteps,” Koch had said in a video from the International Space Station, orbiting over 200 miles (322 km) above Earth.

According to Voanews, more than 500 people have travelled to space, of which fewer than 11 percent were women.

Koch graduated from NASA’s 2013 class of astronauts.

First All-Female Spacewalks

In October last year, astronauts Jessica Meir and Koch conducted the first all-female spacewalk outside of the ISS. The spacewalk lasted for seven hours and 17 minutes.

Speaking to CNN, Koch also offered a piece of advice to young girls who are pursuing their dreams. “Do what scares you. Everyone should think about what intrigues them and what draws them in.”

“Those things can kind of be scary a little bit, but they usually mean that you’re interested. And if it’s just outside what you think is attainable for you and you reach it, it really pays off dividends in more ways than one. It can be rewarding for you personally, and it usually means that you’re giving something back to the world in the maximum way possible,” she added.

Feature Image Credit: The Verge

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