CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – A NASA astronaut, native of Grand Rapids, will spend nearly a year at the International Space Station, setting a record for women.
"One month less, ten days to go," she tweeted Wednesday. She said it was great to have so much extra time in the space and "a real honor and a dream come true".
One month less ten to go. Today, the possibility has become reality: it is planned that my mission be extended through a third expedition aboard @Space station! Privileged to do my best every day. pic.twitter.com/b9RhhNHZzt
– Christina H Koch (@Astro_Christina) April 17, 2019
Before launching last month, Koch knew that his flight could last until 2020 and sought advice from Kelly as well as the retirement of astronaut Peggy Whitson, the record holder of the female fleet.
Koch will beat Whitson's record of 288 days for the longest space flight of a woman in late December.
"I hope that my presence here and that I give the best of myself every day is a way for me to thank people like her," Koch said in an interview with NASA on Wednesday.
Before her launch, Koch said that she and her husband had listened to an audio recording of Kelly's autobiography, "Stamina." She said that there were a lot of useful tips.
An electrical engineer who worked in Antarctica, Koch will undergo medical tests during his stay. More topics and more diversity are needed, she noted, to better understand the effects of space flight in the long run, with NASA aiming to send astronauts back to the moon five years from now.
"It's almost no big deal to have someone on board for 10 or 11 months because we've already done it, we're good and we're going to continue to do it." to do, "she said.
Koch was Assumed to be part of the first women's team to participate in an outing in space, but ventured a few weeks ago with a teammate. Only one usable space suit was available and the two women aboard both needed mediums.
Another NASA astronaut will also have an extended stay. Mr. Andrew Morgan will visit the Space Station this summer for a nine-month mission, considerably longer than the usual six months. The doctor and the army officer will leave Kazakhstan with an Italian and a Russian on July 20, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first landing on an inhabited moon.
Koch and Morgan are both NASA's astronaut class in 2013, the first to have an even split between men and women.
NASA has announced extended assignments this week. The main reason for changing the schedule is to release a seat on a pair of Russian Soyuz spacecraft for the first United Arab Emirates astronaut, Hazza al-Mansoori. It will spend a little more than a week in orbit this fall.
Russia still holds the world record for space endurance. A Russian cosmonaut doctor spent nearly 15 months on a single mission aboard the former Mir space station in the mid-1990s.
Kelly returned to Earth in 2016 and Whitson in 2017. Both are now retired from NASA.