Published: Tue, February 11, 2020
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

NASA astronaut returns to Earth after longest-ever female spaceflight

NASA astronaut returns to Earth after longest-ever female spaceflight

They will remain on board as a three-person crew until early April, when NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Nikolai Tikhonov and Andrei Babkin will launch to the station.

Koch's achievement comes as NASA is celebrating 20 continuous years of being present on the International Space Station, which 240 miles above Earth.

Alexander Skvortsov looked every part the Russian space veteran as an aide wiped his brow and he tucked into a fresh apple under the firm grip of gravity.

Launched into orbit last March, Ms Koch's mission was extended in April from its original span of six months to almost a year after she was already aboard the station.

Koch smiled and gave a thumbs up as a support team helped her out of the capsule and placed her on a chair next to her crew members for a quick follow-up.

During his time on the ISS, he conducted six spacewalks for a total of 33 hours and nine minutes in the vacuum of space.

Koch and fellow astronaut Jessica Meir embarked on the first all-female spacewalk October 18 - a seven-month delay after NASA learned it did not have enough appropriately sized spacesuits for both women.

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He said that there is no reason to panic, "We are not locking down the city, or confining anybody to stay at home". Globally, the situation has escalated, with more than 34,000 people infected and more than 720 deaths.

The North Carolina State University (NCSU) graduate also told journalists that she strives to be a source of inspiration for the next generation of space explorers. Her 10-month mission became the longest spaceflight for a woman, surpassing the previous record of 289 days that took place in December 2019. That's the variety of consecutive days that she spent in area, the longest ever for a lady.

Koch's extended mission will provide researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman as the agency plans to return humans to the Moon under the Artemis program and prepare for human exploration of Mars.

The ad featured NASA astronaut Nicole Stott and saw the company promise to donate up to $500,000 to the nonprofit Women Who Code, which works with young women seeking careers in tech and scientific fields. This marked his first flight into space.

The 43-year-old Italian posted regular shots of the Earth while aboard, highlighting the plight of the Amazon rainforest and describing the Alps as "like a spinal column, never bending to time".

She departed the ISS at 05:50 (UTC) on 6 February 2020 alongside cosmonaut Aleksandr Skvortsov and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano (who both arrived on the ISS in July 2019).

Among Americans across genders, just Scott Kelly (340 days) is ahead of Koch.

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