Every day for the next six weeks, NASA astronaut Christina Koch will be setting a new women’s record for continuous time in space.
- Koch’s extended stint on the International Space Station follows up on astronaut Scott Kelly’s “Year in Space” mission in 2015-2016, and is similarly aimed at studying the health effects of long-duration spaceflight. She arrived in March, and marked her 288th day in orbit on Saturday. That officially surpassed the women’s record set by Peggy Whitson in 2017.
- Koch is also in the space history books for being part of the world’s first all-woman spacewalking team in October, along with Jessica Meir. When her mission extension was announced, back in April, Koch said she sought advice from Whitson — and was told to “find what you love, and make sure you have it up there.” (Maybe that’s a reference to space cookies for Christmas?)
- By the time Koch makes her scheduled return to Earth in February, her record will have been extended to 328 days. That’s less than two weeks shy of Kelly’s 340-day stay, which stands as the U.S. single-flight endurance record. For what it’s worth, Soviet cosmonaut Valery Polyakov set the world record in 1995 with nearly 438 full days.