Astronaut Christina Koch has finished her return trip from the International Space Station (ISS) early today, along with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano. The three of them boarded the Soyuz capsule that was docked at the ISS earlier today, and they had a safe landing as planned in Kazakhstan at around 4:12 AM EST.
What makes Koch’s trip significant is that it set a record: she’s officially the U.S. astronaut with the second-longest stay in space, with 328 consecutive days at the station. The first one on that list is Scott Kelley, who spent 340 consecutive days in space. Even though, she’s officially the woman with the longest stay in space in the world, and she officially passed fellow U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson who was in space for 289 consecutive days.
Koch’s tour included 5,248 orbits of the Earth, and the total distance she traversed is 139 million miles. She also spent a lot of time outside the station, as she completed six spacewalks, including one record-setting first-ever spacewalk involving all women, with fellow astronaut Jessica Meir. She also did two more all-women spacewalks after that.
Koch and the other returning space travelers all appeared to be in good shape upon landing. They will get the standard medical checks that are common for all returning astronauts returning home in the following days. However, Koch’s mission is not done now that she’s back, as she’s participating in NASA research about a long-duration spaceflight that will pave the way for long trips further out in our solar system, including a trip to the Moon and a trip to Mars.