Washington: American astronaut Christina Koch landed in Kazakhstan on Thursday, ending a 328-day mission that is expected to result in new insights into deep-space travel.
Koch is an engineer from North Carolina who joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 2013. She led the first all-female spacewalk in 2019 and has set the record for the longest stay in space by a woman. Data on weightlessness and space radiation and how it affects the female body on long space flights will be revealed through her mission.
NASA’s former deputy administer said, “Women acclimate well to space, so I think this is a milestone that will be overtaken by women in the future and it’s what we aspire to do.”
Koch along with European astronaut Luca Parmitano from Italy and Russian Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov landed on the snowy Kazakh Stepe at 4:21am ET from their Soyuz MS-13 capsule. Search and recovery teams will flew them to the Karaganda region for their journey back home. Koch said that she was overwhelmed and happy as she sat on a chair, wrapped in blankets, waiting to be carried into a medical tent to restore her balance.
NASA’s first attempt at an all-female spacewalk in 2019 ignited a gender-equity debate due to their lack of spacesuits in the right size.
Koch’s time in space have demonstrated several longer-term spaceflight effects such as thickening of the carotid artery and retina, changes in gene expression and slight cognitive impairment for men.
US President Donald Trump took to twitter to congratulate Koch on her record-setting mission. He said, “You’re inspiring young women and making The USA proud!”