NASA Says Koch’s Stay On ISS Is For A Study On Women Astronauts
Since the time the news broke earlier this month that NASA astronaut Christina Koch is all set to record the longest spaceflight by a woman, one question was unanswered. Why does National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) want a woman to stay on ISS for 11 months? What’s the purpose of this long venture? According to the reports, Koch ISS stay is meant to help researchers study the effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman, The Hindu reported.
As Voanews reported earlier this month, a female astronaut – Christina Koch – was announced to complete her 11-month-long mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in February 2020. The mission is to collect data under NASA’s preparation of human missions to the Moon and Mars.
Koch’s mission will provide researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman, NASA said
Koch, who was to be a part of the first all-female spacewalk, was scrapped due to non-availability 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, NASA said. She will surpass the current record held by Peggy Whitson. She had spent 288 days aboard the ISS in 2016-17.
According to NASA, this will be the longest spaceflight by a woman, and the 40-year-old astronaut Koch will spend 328 days in space.
However, Koch won’t be able to break the record of the longest spaceflight by a NASA astronaut — Scott Kelly’s 340-day trip during his one-year mission in 2015-16.
Upgrading the data in necessary
NASA lacks updated data on women astronauts as they currently have only male astronauts. This study is crucial since Koch’s mission is to update NASA’s database.
“Christina’s extended mission will provide additional data for NASA’s Human Research Program and continue to support future missions to the Moon and Mars,” said Jennifer Fogarty, chief scientist of the Human Research Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, US, according to The Hindu report.
“It’s an honour to follow in Peggy’s footsteps,” Koch was quoted by NASA. She arrived on board the space station on 14 March to begin research activities as part of the Expedition 59 crew.
The mission will provide further data on women as the majority of details available is on male astronauts. Since male and female bodies respond differently, and health conditions occurring in space needs to be dealt with differntly for both the genders. With this mission, researchers hope to better understand astronaut adaptability over long periods of space exposure. They are updating the system with effective counter-measures to maintain crew health.
Feature Image Credit: The Verge