Record-setting NASA astronaut Christina Koch, who used to sail on the Severn River, has safely returned to earth.
Koch landed in Kazakhstan just three and a half hours after she left the International Space Station (ISS) with two other crew members. With her 328-day mission, Koch set a record for the longest single spaceflight in history by a woman. During her trip, she orbited Earth 5,248 times, which breaks down to 139 million miles– equivalent to 291 trips to the moon and back.
Watch Koch’s emotional moment reuniting with earthlings in the NASA video below:
During Koch’s stay on the ISS, she took part in more than 210 fact-finding investigations. She became a research volunteer for scientists to study the effects of a long-term spaceflight on a woman, which will help in preparation for human exploration of Mars. One research project looked at bone and muscle degradation of the spine, including the risk of breaking bones, caused by spaceflight. The results will inform future preventative actions like medicine or exercise, and putting limits on the amount of force put on astronauts during launch.
There was great local interest in Koch’s history-making mission as she had sailed Snipes with the Severn Sailing Association a handful of years ago, had graduated from the NASA Academy program at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, and tutored at Anne Arundel Community College. Her NASA bio still lists sailing as one of her interests.
Bay Bulletin reported on Koch’s impressive career and ties to the Bay region when she prepared for the spaceflight in March 2019.
-Meg Walburn Viviano