NASA Astronaut Christina Koch Eyes Record With Longest Spaceflight
NASA astronaut Christina Koch is all set to record the longest spaceflight by a woman, the U.S. space agency said Wednesday, Voanews reported. A female astronaut Koch, who was announced to be a part of the first all-female spacewalk was scrapped over lack of a right-sized spacesuit, is going to have her mission on the International Space Station (ISS) extended to nearly 11 months. If all goes well, this would set a record for the longest spaceflight by a woman.
Koch completed the ‘what was to be a historic‘ space walk with a man instead of a female colleague last month. It would have occurred during the final week of Women’s History Month. In the process, she will remain in orbit on board the International Space Station until February 2020, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said. She will surpass the current record held by Peggy Whitson. She had spent 288 days aboard the ISS in 2016-17.
Now according to NASA, this will be the longest spaceflights on the human body, and the 40-year-old astronaut Koch will spend 328 days in space.
“One month down. Ten to go,” Koch wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “Privileged to contribute my best every single day of it.”
However, Koch wouldn’t be able to break the record of the longest spaceflight by a NASA astronaut — Scott Kelly’s 340-day trip.
In late March, the first-all female spacewalk by American astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch, which was to take place at the International Space Station was cancelled due to a shortage of space wear for a female astronaut.
“It feels awesome,” Koch said when told her mission was being prolonged. “I have known that this was a possibility for a long time and it’s truly a dream come true.”
Jennifer Fogarty, chief scientist of NASA’s Human Research Program, said Koch’s mission was extended to “support future missions to the Moon and Mars,” NDTV reported.
“NASA is looking to build on what we have learned with additional astronauts in space for more than 250 days,” Fogarty said in a statement.
Astronaut Peggy Whitson holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman. She stayed in orbit 288 days in 2016 and 2017. “It’s my honor to follow in Peggy’s footsteps,” Koch 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 traveled to space, of which fewer than 11 percent were women.
Koch graduated from NASA’s 2013 class of astronauts. By that time, the class had majority number of women.
First All-Female Spacewalks
American astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch who were to carry out the first-all female spacewalk, which was supposedly cancelled due to a shortage of the right-sized spacesuit on the ISS, say the plan was altered as a matter of safety. According to them, efficiency comes first, the FoxNews reported.
Astronaut Christina Koch along with Anne McClain had to take a spacewalk on March 29, which was to mark a historic event as the first-all female spacewalk, was cancelled by NASA due to a work in progress on a second set of battery replacements on a power channel on the International Space Station (ISS).
Since there was only one medium-sized hard upper torso at the space station available, Koch took the spacewalk along with astronaut Nick Hague, operating the assignment, a NASA press release said.
Feature Image Credit: The Verge