US astronaut ends longest spaceflight by a woman | News | DW | 06.02.2020

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US astronaut ends longest spaceflight by a woman

NASA's Christina Koch has returned to Earth, ending the longest spaceflight ever completed by a female astronaut. Koch spent nearly a year on the International Space Station.

American astronaut Christina Koch landed back on Earth on Thursday, marking the end of the longest space mission ever completed by a female astronaut.

A livestream by Russian space agency Roscosmos showed a capsule carrying Koch as well as Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov touching down safely in a snow-covered field in Kazakhstan Thursday afternoon, local time. 

Read more: What's happening in the night sky in 2020?

Koch spent 328 days on the International Space Station (ISS), breaking a previous spaceflight record for female astronauts of 289 days.

Second time making history

The 41-year-old engineer from Michigan also made space history last October when she and fellow astronaut Jessica Meir completed the first-ever all-woman spacewalk

Read more: Unconscious bias in NASA's spacewalk wardrobe fail?

Koch boarded the space station last March. Her mission, originally scheduled for six months, was extended to nearly a year once she was aboard. 

NASA had said that Koch's long stay would provide valuable information about the long-term effects of space travel on the female body. The US space agency has plans in the works to build a permanent station on the surface of the moon within the next ten years. 

Male cosmonaut Valery Polyakov currently holds the overall record for longest space mission, having completed a stay of 437 days aboard the ISS. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly set the overall American record in 2016 when he returned from a 340-day trip. 

kp/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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