US-based NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned to Earth on Thursday after completing a record 328 days in space. She was leading the first all-female spacewalk in 2019. She also headed a mission that could give deep insights into space travel in the future.
Koch (41) along with Alexander Skvortsov, the Soyuz Commander and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency landed at 4:12 am (EST) on the desert of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. The Russian Soyuz Capsule which was docked at the space station landed safely with the parachute in the desert.
The mission carried out by Koch broke the record for the longest time a woman continuously stayed in space. The earlier record was set by NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson. Last October, Koch obtained a milestone along with Jessica Meir, astronaut, by two women stepping out of the space station at the same time for a spacewalk. Both of them conducted another spacewalk together in January 2020.
The all-female spacewalk which was scheduled to happen in March 2019 by NASA had to be rescheduled because one of the astronaut’s spacesuits was not properly configured. This created a debate on gender discrimination between the members of the space community in NASA.
Christina Koch’s mission on space will provide the researchers with the required data to conduct studies on how weightlessness due to gravity and space radiation affects the body and genetics of a human female. This study will prove to be useful while setting up the permanent US space station on the moon in the coming decade.
In 2015, Scott Kelly carried out a mission and lived in the space station for 340 days to demonstrate and study the health effects on human beings in space. It was found that spaceflight causes thickening of the carotid artery, retina and also changes in gene expression. There were also slight cognitive impairments for men.
Koch’s original mission was for 6 months starting from March 2019 and then it was extended for one year since she was already aboard in the station.