by Rebecca Kapiloff “I was able to become an astronaut because no one told me I couldn’t.” This is what astronaut Christina Koch said before making her descent to earth and landing on the snow-covered Kazakh steppe, Kazakhstan at 09:12 GMT. The 41 year old female survived 328 days in space along with Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency. She holds the longest record of being in space for a female and has been on six spacewalks including the First All-Women’s Spacewalk.
Koch first launched to the International Space Station on May 14, 2019, where she lived among other astronauts. During her time in space, she travelled approximately 140 million miles, orbiting the Earth more than 5,200 times—according to NASA. Before Koch set out on her journey home, she explained that she will miss her friends, the mind-blowing views, and activities one can only do in zero-gravity.
In space, Koch went on six spacewalks including the first all-female spacewalk with fellow astronaut Jessica Meir. The two females were sent out to fix a broken battery charger on the spacecraft. “We caught each other’s eye and we knew that we were really honored with this opportunity to inspire so many, and just hearing our voices talk to Mission Control, knowing two female voices had never been on the loops, solving those problems together outside — it was a really special feeling,” Koch explained after the excursion on October 18. In total, she spent forty-two hours and fifteen minutes out of the ISS.
She explained how breaking the record for the longest stay in space for a female was not what she set out to do. Koch hopes to inspire others to achieve what they aspire to. She gave some advice to an 11 year old girl: “I think the best advice I can give to anyone is to follow your passions, to know yourself, do what you love, and also do what scares you. Do the things that you think might be just outside of your reach, but they intrigue you and they call your name. I think that when you achieve those things, you find out what you’re capable of.”