NASA's Christina Koch returned to Earth safely on Thursday after shattering the spaceflight record for female astronauts with a stay of almost 11 months aboard the International Space Station. Koch touched down at 0912 GMT on the Kazakh steppe after 328 days in space, along with Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency.Koch was shown seated and smiling broadly after being extracted from the Soyuz descent module in the Roscosmos space agency's video footage from the landing site.
"I am so overwhelmed and happy right now," said Koch, who blasted off on March 14 last year.Parmitano pumped his fists in the air after being lifted into his chair while Skvortsov bit into an apple.US President Donald Trump congratulated Koch on Twitter. Koch, a 41-year-old Michigan-born engineer, on December 28 beat the previous record for a single spaceflight by a woman of 289 days, set by NASA veteran Peggy Whitson in 2016-17. Koch will now head to NASA headquarters in Houston, via the Kazakh city of Karaganda and Cologne in Germany, where she will undergo medical testing.Koch's medical data will be especially valuable to NASA scientists as the agency draws up plans for a long-duration manned mission to Mars.
Welcome back to Earth, @Astro_Christina, and congratulations on breaking the female record for the longest stay in space! You’re inspiring young women and making the USA proud! Enjoyed speaking with you and @Astro_Jessica on the first all-female spacewalk IN HISTORY last year.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 6, 2020