NASA’s Christina Koch has reached Earth safely on Thursday after setting a new spaceflight record for being the female astronaut that stayed almost 11 months aboard the International Space Station.
After a whopping 328 days in space, Koch touched down at 09:12 GMT on the Kazakh steppe along with Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency.
Koch can be seen smiling broadly as she was being extracted from the Soyuz descent module in the Roscosmos space agency’s video footage from the landing site. The module’s descent and landing in the steppe was witness by Local Kazaks and support crew who had come to extract the astronomers.
Koch is a 41-year-old Michigan-born engineer, broke the previous record held by NASA veteran Peggy Whitson on December 28 last year. Whitson had set the record earlier during her 289 days of space flight in the 2016-2017 period.
Along with Nasa’s Jessica Meir, Koch also made history by being part of the first-ever all-woman spacewalk back in October last year. The spacewalk was initially postponed as the space station did suits of the right size for the two women.
Three-and-a-half hours before her journey back to Earth, Koch told NBC on Tuesday that she would “miss microgravity. It’s really fun to be in a place where you can just bounce around between the ceiling and the floor whenever you want.” She wants to be an inspiration for the next generation of astronauts.
She will now go to NASA headquarters in Houston to undergo medical testing. Her medical data will be crucial since NASA scientists are planning for a long-duration manned mission to Mars.