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NCSU grad Christina Koch sets record for longest space flight by woman

Posted December 28, 2019 4:40 p.m. EST
Updated January 2, 2020 10:49 p.m. EST

An NC State graduate is making history and a big difference in space exploration.

NASA Astronaut Christina Koch, who grew up in Jacksonville and graduated from NC State, set a new record Saturday for the longest space flight by a woman. As of Saturday, she has been in space at the International Space Station for 289 days. It surpasses the record of Peggy Whitson, who spent 288 consecutive days in space.

"Just a really warm, open person and she is really about challenging other people as well," said NASA Ambassador Tony Rice, who also writes for WRAL, about meeting Koch years ago in Raleigh. "It's amazing what she has accomplished."

By the time Koch returns to Earth, her new record will sit at 328 days.

"It is important, mostly because of the data," Rice said. "We are going back to the moon. NASA has accepted the challenge by the president to get there by 2024, and then the next step is going to be Mars."

We know how extended time in space affects men. Scott Kelly served on the ISS for 340 days. Rice said Koch will teach us more about how women are affected.

"So it is really important Christina was able to stay that long," Rice said.

Add it to the growing number of important things Koch has accomplished. She also recently took part in the first all-female spacewalk.

Koch is expected to return to Earth in early February.

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