NASA Astronaut Christina Koch has broken the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman. The record had previously been held by NASA legend Peggy Whitson, a personal hero of Koch’s.
“Having the opportunity to be up here for so long is truly an honor,” said Koch during a press interview last Thursday. “Peggy is a heroine of mine and has also been kind enough to mentor me through the years, so it is a reminder to give back and to mentor when I get back.”
Koch launched aboard the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft on March 14, 2019, arriving at the International Space Station (ISS) just hours later at 01:01 UTC the next day. The mission is Koch’s first and was originally slated to be a standard six-month stay aboard the station. However, her stay was extended by NASA in an effort to collect data relating to the effects of long-term spaceflight on the human body.
The record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman had previously been held by NASA veteran Peggy Whitson. Koch surpassed Whitson’s record of 289 days, 5 hours and 1 minute on Saturday, December 28, 2019, at 00:16 UTC.
Koch is expected to remain aboard the ISS until February 6, 2020, following a staggering 328 days in Space, just 12 days shy of Scott Kelly’s record for the longest single spaceflight for a NASA astronaut. She will, however, be well short of the longest single spaceflight in history set by Valeri Polyakov from 1994 to 1995. Polyakov’s record stands at a staggering 437 days, 17 hours and 58 minutes.
In addition to breaking the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, Koch’s was also part of the first all-female spacewalk aboard the ISS. Koch and fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir made the historic spacewalk on October 18, 2019.