US Astronaut Returns To Earth, Sets New Record

 US Astronaut Returns To Earth, Sets New Record

NASA’s Christina Koch returned to Earth on Thursday having shattered the spaceflight record for female astronauts after almost a year aboard the International Space Station.

In an interview with the NBC on Tuesday, Koch said  she would “miss microgravity” as she answered questions from journalists ahead of her three-and-a-half-hour journey back to Earth.

“It’s really fun to be in a place where you can just bounce around between the ceiling and the floor whenever you want,” she said.

Koch touched down on the Kazakh steppe at 0912 GMT after 328 days in space along with Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency.

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.

Koch had already made history by that point after she became one half of the first-ever all-woman spacewalk along with NASA counterpart Jessica Meir in October.

The first woman in space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova whose spaceflight in 1963 is still the only solo mission carried out by a woman.

But the cosmonauts Russia has sent to the ISS since expeditions began in 2000 have all been men with the exception of Yelena Serova’s launch in 2014.

Both Tereshkova and Serova are now lawmakers in the Russian parliament, where they represent the ruling United Russia party.

The 43-year-old Italian posted regular shots of the Earth while aboard, highlighting the plight of the Amazon rainforest and poetically describing the Alps as “like a spinal column, never bending to time.”

Four male cosmonauts have spent a year or longer in space as part of a single mission with Valery Polyakov’s 437 days the overall record.

Scott Kelly holds the record for a NASA astronaut, posting 340 days at the ISS before he returned home in 2016.

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