NASA astronaut Christina Koch surpassed the previous record of 288 days on Dec. 28
NASA astronaut Christina Koch now owns the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman in history — and she’s still weeks away from returning home.
On Dec. 28, the 40-year-old astronaut eclipsed the record of former astronaut Peggy Whitson, who spent 289 days, 5 hours and 1 minute in space in 2017, according to Space.com.
Koch has been on the International Space Station since March 14, 2019, and is expected to remain aboard the satellite until February 2020. Her mission was initially supposed to last six months but it was extended by NASA to study the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the body.
“Having the opportunity to be up here for so long is truly an honor,” Koch said of the accomplishment, according to Space.com. “Peggy is a heroine of mine and has also been kind enough to mentor me through the years, so it is a reminder to give back and to mentor when I get back.”
“It is a wonderful thing for science. We see another aspect of how the human body is affected by microgravity for the long term. That is really important for our future spaceflight plans, going forward to the moon and Mars,” she continued.
This isn’t the only history Koch as made during her nearly yearlong mission.
In October, both she and astronaut Jessica Meir performed the first-ever all-female spacewalk. The two spent more than seven hours fixing a faulty power controller outside of the ISS.
But it hasn’t been all work and no play aboard the space station. On Jan. 3, Koch tweeted a picture of herself watching the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Dallas Cowboys.
When Koch returns to Earth, she will have spent 328 continuous days in space, just short of the overall record of 340 days set by Scott Kelly in 2016.
“Do what scares you. Everyone should think about what intrigues them and what draws them in,” Koch told CNN of setting the record.
“Those things can kind of be scary a little bit, but they usually mean that you’re interested,” she added. “And if it’s just outside what you think is attainable for you and you reach it, it really pays off dividends in more ways than one. It can be rewarding for you personally, and it usually means that you’re giving something back to the world in the maximum way possible.”