Astronaut Christina Koch Lands on Earth After Record-Setting 328 Days at Space Station

Christina Koch safely landed along with two other ISS crew members in Kazakhstan on Thursday morning

Christina Koch is back on Earth after months of making giant leaps for female astronauts in space.

On Thursday, the U.S. astronaut, 41, landed safely in Kazakhstan with astronauts Luca Parmitano (of the European Space Agency) and Alexandr Skvortsov (of Russia) — all of whom had been staying at the International Space Station, according to ABC News.

The return home marked the end of a record-setting stay at the ISS for Koch, who was stationed there for 328 consecutive days. Her nearly 11-month mission became the longest spaceflight for a woman, after she surpassed the previous record of 289 days back in December.

In other celestial milestones, Koch also participated in the first-ever all-female spacewalk, along with Jessica Meir. Back in October, the two scientists had to venture outside the ISS to fix a power controller, making history in the process.

Koch — who documented her out-of-this-world journey on social media — shared a photo of some of her fellow crew mates on Instagram, shortly before she parted ways with them.

“I’m going to miss this bunch. Thank you, space family. #Expedition61,” she captioned the zero-gravity friend photo.

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NASA astronaut Christina Koch smiles shortly after Russian Soyuz MS-13 space capsule landing in a remote area southeast of Zhezkazgan in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, 06 February 2020

According to NASA, the only other American astronaut to complete a longer continuous spaceflight was Scott Kelly, who clocked in 340 days.

Koch was born in Michigan and raised in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and later became a graduate of North Carolina State University. Prior to her residency among the stars, she lived in Montana with her husband, Robert Koch. She was selected by NASA to become an astronaut in 2013.

On March 14, Koch arrived at the ISS for Day 1 of her now-concluded mission.

It was a momentous day she said she won’t soon forget.

“That was the day that I have seared in my memory,” she said, according to NASA. “Visions from when I first arrived here. … I’m very privileged to have that as one of my favorite memories.”

Expedition 61 Soyuz Landing. NASA astronaut Christina Koch is helped out of the Russian Soyuz MS-13 space capsule about 150 km ( 80 miles) south-east of the Kazakh town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, . The Soyuz space capsule with Koch, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, returning from a mission to the International Space Station landed safely in Kazakhstan. Koch wrapped up a 328-day mission on her first flight into space, providing researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman as the agency plans to return to the Moon under the Artemis program Russia Space Station, Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan - 06 Feb 2020
Christina Koch. Bill Ingalls/AP/Shutterstock
NASA astronaut Christina Koch smiles shortly after Russian Soyuz MS-13 space capsule landing in a remote area southeast of Zhezkazgan in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, 06 February 2020
Christina Koch.

Recalling her first time conducting a spacewalk back in March, Koch said it was gratifying: “At that moment, I just felt like everything I had ever worked for, everything I had ever loved, everything I had ever wanted to contribute to my entire life was just culminating in that moment.”

Koch’s mission, according to ABC News, will help researchers better understand the effects of space-living on the female body, cluing scientists in on future plans for longterm deep-space exploration.

Recapping her experience to NASA, Koch marveled at how her body and mind adapted to her environment, so much so that she had “actually forgotten that [she] was floating.”

“It’s been a huge surprise to see that life up here can actually become normal because of what our bodies can adapt to,” she said.

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