Astronaut Breaks Record For Longest Single Spaceflight By A Woman

NASA's Christina Koch has spent more consecutive days in space than any other female astronaut.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch is breaking records for women in space.

As of Tuesday, Koch has been living and working on the International Space Station for 292 days ― which means she’s spent more consecutive time in space than any other woman.

The previous record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman was held by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who spent 288 consecutive days in space. Koch broke that record on Dec. 28, according to NASA.

Koch sent Whitson, the first female commander of the space station, a shout out Monday on Twitter. She called the retired astronaut her “mentor.”

Whitson congratulated Koch on Twitter, saying that “records are made to be broken.”

“We all know gravity sucks,” Whitson said in a video posted by the International Space Station on Saturday.

The 40-year-old Koch made history earlier in the year after she teamed up with fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir to participate in the first all-female spacewalk. The pair stepped out of the ISS to fix a broken part of the power network in October.

Koch grew up in North Carolina, and her most recent address on Earth was in Livingston, Montana. She started her career as an electrical engineer for NASA. She’s spent months working in extreme conditions at remote scientific research stations in Alaska, Greenland and Antarctica ― even spending a winter at the South Pole.

She was selected as an astronaut in 2013 and underwent intensive physiological training, flight training, and water and wilderness survival training.

Koch arrived on the ISS on March 14 for what was supposed to be a six-month expedition. She received news in April that her mission would be extended until February 2020 to give scientists a chance to gather data about the effects of long-term spaceflight on astronauts’ health and performance. NASA is reportedly planning to use this data to support future missions to the moon and Mars.

By the time she heads back to Earth, Koch will have spent 328 days in space.

Astronaut Christina Koch, left, and Jessica Meir.
Astronaut Christina Koch, left, and Jessica Meir.
NASA via Reuters

Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will continue to hold the record for the longest single spaceflight by a NASA astronaut. He spent 340 days in space in 2015 and 2016.

Whitson still holds the record for the most cumulative time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut. Over the course of several missions, she totaled 665 days in space.

A Russian cosmonaut, Gennady Padalka, has spent more time in space than any other human. Over the course of five flights, Padalka logged 879 days in space.

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