Meet Christina Koch, the NASA spacewalker who created history

United States astronaut Christina Koch, returned to Earth today after a record stay at the International Space Station.

The leader of the first all-female spacewalk in 2019, Koch's mission could provide rich insight into deep-space travel. Here are more details!

The beginning

Koch was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2013, as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class.

(Photograph:AFP)

Russian capsule

Koch spent 328 days in the orbiting laboratory, breaking the old record. The 41-year-old boarded a Russian Soyuz capsule was expected to land at 2.42 pm IST today.

The capsule landed on the desert steppe of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. 

(Photograph:AFP)

Space radiation and female body

According to NASA, Koch's mission would provide insight into the weightlessness of gravity. Additionally, it could also help the space organisation understand how space radiation affects the female body on long-duration spaceflights

(Photograph:AFP)

Dearth of data

The mission became necessary as the majority of data available is on male astronauts. But male and female bodies respond differently, and health conditions occur at different rates in male and female populations.

(Photograph:AFP)

Gender milestones, even in space!

In October 2019, Koch achieved a gender milestone during a spacewalk, which was undertaken with a fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir. This was the first time two women stepped out of the space station at the same time.

(Photograph:AFP)

New record!

The record for the longest continuous stay in space by a woman was previously held by NASA's Peggy Whitson who achieved the feat three years ago.

(Photograph:AFP)

Christina Koch and Jessica Meir part of historical first-ever all-female spacewalk

This NASA photo obtained October 20, 2019 shows NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (L) and Christina Koch (R) putting on their spacesuits as they prepare to leave the hatch of the International Space Station and begin the historical first-ever all-female spacewalk on October 18, 2019.

The two ventured outside the International Space Station on October 18,2019 to replace faulty equipment on the station’s exterior. The astronauts replaced a faulty battery charge/discharge unit (BCDU) that failed to activate following the October 11, 2019 installation of new lithium-ion batteries on the space station’s exterior structure.

The BCDUs regulate the amount of charge put into the batteries that collect energy from the station’s solar arrays to power station systems during periods when the station orbits during nighttime passes around Earth.

Though the BCDU failure has not impacted station operations or crew safety, it does prevent the new batteries from providing increased station power.

(Photograph:AFP)