NASA astronaut Christina Koch made her mark in history after breaking a new record for women in space, and on her first-ever spaceflight too. Upon her arrival to Earth, Koch achieved the Guinness World Records title for the longest spacewalk by a woman at 328 days, from March 14, 2019, to February 6, 2020. Her time spent in space broke the previous 288-day record set by Peggy Whitson and is the second-longest single spaceflight by a US astronaut after Russian doctor Valeriy Poliyakov who holds the title at 437 days.
Koch was accepted as part of NASA Astronaut Group 21 before placing on NASA’s active roster for possible flights to the International Space Station in 2015. Four years later, she began her voyage alongside fellow NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and made her first spacewalk with Hague just ten days after her arrival at the station.
Not long after that, Koch quickly became the third most experienced female spacewalker of all time with six spacewalks, including the first all-woman spacewalk. During her 11-month stay in space, Koch completed 5,248 orbits of the Earth and a journey of 139 million miles, roughly the equivalent of 291 trips to the Moon and back.
While there has been no evidence that Koch is venturing back to space any time soon, her mission has helped scientists observe in more detail, the effects that long-duration spaceflights have on a woman. The research gathered will support NASA’s goal for more human landings on the Moon, as well as future human exploration of Mars.