Christina Koch, a United States astronaut with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has returned to earth after spending almost a year in space, the longest for a female astronaut.
Koch touched down on the Kazakh steppe at 09:12 GMT in Kazakhstan after 328 days in space alongside Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency.
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The 41-year-old Michigan-born engineer by training surpassed the previous record set for a single spaceflight by a woman — 289 days, held by NASA veteran, Peggy Whitson, on December 28, 2019.
Speaking after her capsule landed, Koch said: “I’m so overwhelmed and happy right now.”
During her mission, Koch completed six spacewalks and spent 42 hours and 15 minutes outside of the station.
She also conducted the first all-female spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut, Jessica Meir, in October 2019.
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The duo conducted two further spacewalks together on 15 and 20 January this year.
By extending her original six-month mission and reaching this record of 328 days, Koch has contributed to a better understanding of what long-term spaceflight can do to the human body. She devoted much of her time to a variety of experiments and investigations.
Her stay is just 12 days short of the all-time US record set by Scott Kelly, who was on the ISS from 2015-2016.