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NASA Astronaut Christina Koch to Set Longest Spaceflight Record by a Woman

Astronaut Koch is set to surpass Peggy Whitson’s record for longest spaceflight by a woman, and will remain in orbit until almost February 2020.

Shouvik Das | News18.com

Updated:April 18, 2019, 3:42 PM IST
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NASA Astronaut Christina Koch to Set Longest Spaceflight Record by a Woman
Astronaut Koch is set to surpass Peggy Whitson’s record for longest spaceflight by a woman, and will remain in orbit until almost February 2020.
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NASA astronaut Christina Koch is set to spend the longest duration in space by a woman, surpassing the previous record of 288 days in spaceflight by astronaut Peggy Whitson. The move comes after recent changes in NASA’s change in schedule for astronomers. Koch, on behalf of NASA, will help determine the effects of long duration spaceflight on the human body, i.e., missions which extend beyond six months. This will seemingly help expand the science of astronomy beyond present standards, and help us prepare for long duration, manned space missions to the moon, Mars and beyond.

Koch arrived at the International Space Station on March 14, and in her one month-odd stay in space, has already conducted one spacewalk so far. In about three months’ time, she will be joined by two NASA astronauts, Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir, who will make their first spaceflight in July. While Meir is set to fly back earlier, Morgan will reportedly remain at the ISS until at least March 2020, further contributing to the study of how extended space travel can impact bodily systems and have altering effects on us.

Astronomer Scott Kelly set the record for the longest spaceflight by a human, by spending 340 days aboard the ISS. He took off on March 27, 2015, and finally returned on March 1, 2016, contributing significantly to how extended periods in space can fundamentally alter the human systems. Scott further contributed to the genetic study as his twin brother and fellow astronomer, Mark Kelly, remained on Earth. The range of changes between the identical twins were quite striking, since within the one year in space, Scott experienced a two-inch height growth, weight loss, altered DNA patterns and reduced cognitive abilities, as well as changes in his DNA that have now been deemed as semi-permanent or lifelong.

It remains to be seen how Koch’s spaceflight mission ends, and the response that her body presents. Long duration spaceflight is a tricky affair, with zero gravity conditions and specialised actions to normal reflexes making for uncharted territories for the human body. Koch’s duration in space will almost equal the length in time that Scott Kelly spent aboard the ISS, and will reveal the impact that it has on a female body.

Koch will also enter the list of the most illustrious women in the field of astronomy, alongside the likes of Sunita Williams and Katie Bouman. With over a month in space already, Koch’s return to Earth is set for some time in February 2020.
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
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