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'Live the life you've imagined for yourself,' Koch tells dreamers after return to Earth

Posted February 12, 2020 6:45 p.m. EST

— During her 328-day mission on the International Space Station, North Carolina State University alumna and NASA astronaut Christina Koch said the endurance-focused phrase “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” became “It’s an ultra-marathon, not a marathon.”

“That is really true,” Koch said in a press conference in Houston on Wednesday. “[You’re] taking it one day at a time, making sure that you recognize that there will be times that it feels like time is passing slowly, your time up there is special.”

She returned to Earth last Thursday, landing in Kazakhstan.

Koch now holds the title of the longest spaceflight in U.S. history by a woman, and she was part of the first all-female spacewalk.

She hopes to be an inspiration to others.

“Follow your passions, be true to yourself, do what you love, and live the life you’ve imagined for yourself,” she said.

Koch said her time studying physics and electrical engineering at N.C. State shaped her, specifically her time spent learning how to rock climb.

“That particular hobby has lent itself so well to some of the challenges I faced in learning how to become an astronaut – mainly that you can achieve things that seem unachievable at first,” she said.

Seeing Earth for the first time from space, when she was on the Soyuz spacecraft headed to the International Space Station, was unforgettable.

“We’re on our way up to the space station — it’s about a six-hour rendezvous — and it first occurs to me that I should look out my window,” she said. “I opened it up, and wouldn’t you know, there was Earth.

“It looked exactly like you might see in the pictures except way more brighter, way more real.”

Nothing could compare to the sensory stimulation of returning to earth, either.

“Within the first minutes of being back on Earth, I saw more faces than I had in a year,” she said. “That was really exciting.”

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