U.S. astronaut Christina Koch has returned to Earth after 328 days in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Her mission was the longest-ever by a woman. Her part of the mission ended when she landed in Kazakhstan aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on February 6, 2020, at 9:12 UTC (4:12 a.m. Eastern; translate to your time). Astronauts Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of Russia returned with her.
Koch participated in six spacewalks, including the first-ever performed exclusively by women. NASA said today:
Koch’s first journey into space became a 328-day mission in which she orbited Earth 5,248 times, a journey of 139 million miles, roughly the equivalent of 291 trips to the Moon and back. She conducted and supported more than 210 investigations during Expeditions 59, 60, and 61, including as a research subject volunteer to provide scientists the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman as the agency plans to return to the Moon under the Artemis program and prepare for human exploration of Mars.
According to a story in this morning’s Washington Post:
Koch broke a record set in 2017 by Peggy Whitson, who spent 288 days in space on a single mission, and came within two weeks of the record for a single spaceflight by an American, 340 days, set by Scott Kelly in 2016. Whitson still holds the record for the total days in space by any NASA astronaut, at 665.
Way to go, Christina!
Watch Koch’s most memorable moments from her record-breaking mission at: https://go.nasa.gov/36E40MZ
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) February 6, 2020
Bottom line: Astronaut Christina Koch has returned to Earth after a record-breaking stay of 328 days on the International Space Station.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.