Published: Sat, April 20, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

NASA Astronaut To Set Record For Longest Spaceflight By A Woman

NASA Astronaut To Set Record For Longest Spaceflight By A Woman

NASA astronaut Christina Koch will stay aboard the ISS for an extended flight that will lead to her setting a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman.

FILE - U.S. astronaut Christina Koch, member of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), looks on prior the launch of Soyuz MS-12 space ship at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, March 14, 2019.

This schedule also allows NASA to get the most time dedicated to other research aboard the station, as US commercial crew launch providers prepare for operations to and from USA soil and the space station. Astronaut Andrew Morgan will see his stay aboard the ISS extended.

At an estimated 328 days in space, Koch will set a new record for the longest spaceflight completed by a woman.

The overall NASA record of 340 days, set in 2016, is held by astronaut Scott Kelly in an experiment to compare his physical and mental health to his identical twin Mark Kelly, who remained on Earth.

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It was the 11 launch to ISS for the Northrop Grumman Corporation and six months since the last one at Wallops.

"I hope that me being up here and giving my best every day is a way for me to say thank you to people like her", Koch said in a NASA interview broadcast Wednesday. He called Koch an awesome crewmate and team member and said, "I couldn't think of a better person to spend a year on the Space Station".

Jennifer Fogarty, chief scientist of NASA's Human Research Program, said Koch's extended mission would provide additional data about the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body and "support future missions to the Moon and Mars". As NASA gathers more data, the space agency will increasingly be able to detect variability among individuals, and important differences between men and women.

She and fellow NASA pilot Nick Hague, as well as cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, will remain aboard the space station to begin Expedition 60. The Caribou, Maine, native was selected as an astronaut in 2013, while serving as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital. She finished her astronaut candidate training in 2015.

Morgan will make his first flight into space this summer. She holds a bachelor's in biology from Brown University, a master's in space studies from International Space University, and a doctorate in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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