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New ISS astronaut assignments mean Christina Koch will break a huge NASA record

Published Apr 18th, 2019 1:16PM EDT
christina koch
Image: NASA

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A few weeks back, NASA had anticipated conducting the first all-female spacewalk with astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClaine on the International Space Station. Unfortunately, due to some last-minute preference changes with McClaine’s space suit sizing the spacewalk was instead conducted by NASA’s Nick Hague and Koch, but it looks like Koch may indeed get her name in the record books anyway.

In a new announcement from NASA, Koch has received an extension to her scheduled stay aboard the International Space Station. She’ll now spend a whopping 328 days in space, meaning that she won’t be returning to Earth until 2020. This will make her the first woman to have stayed in space continuously for that amount of time, beating out the previous 288-day record of retired astronaut Peggy Whitson.

Koch called the extension “amazing” in an interview shortly after NASA made the announcement. “To be able to contribute to [the mission] and to give my best, every day, to that for as long as possible is a true honor and a dream come true,” Koch said.

NASA’s other record holder, astronaut Scott Kelly, spent the most consecutive days in space of any astronaut at 340. However, no member of NASA holds a candle to Russia’s Valery Polyakov who spent an incredible 438 days in space in a single stint aboard the Mir space station in the mid 1990s.

Nevertheless, getting your name in the NASA record books is no easy feat, and Koch seems eager to do just that.

“Astronauts demonstrate amazing resilience and adaptability in response to long duration spaceflight exposure,” NASA’s Jennifer Fogarty said in a statement. “This will enable successful exploration missions with healthy, performance-ready astronauts. NASA is looking to build on what we have learned with additional astronauts in space for more than 250 days. Christina’s extended mission will provide additional data for NASA’s Human Research Program and continue to support future missions to the Moon and Mars.”

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