NC astronaut breaks record for longest single space flight by a woman

Channel 9 speaks with orbiting NC astronaut ahead of record-breaking milestone

CHARLOTTE — Astronaut Christina Koch has set the record for longest time spent in space in a single space flight by a woman, logging her 289th day in space.

Anchor Blaine Tolison got to speak with Koch Friday morning ahead of her record-breaking milestone while she was on the International Space Station.

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He learned how she’s inspiring the world and many in her home state of North Carolina as the International Space Station orbited the Earth at about 5 miles a second.

Channel 9 established a connection with Koch through NASA’s Mission Control in Houston.

“Hello, good morning,” Koch said via a video call. “It’s an honor to speak with you and thanks for being on board today.”

Koch returns to Earth in February 2020 after taking off from the space center on March 14. This will put her a few days shy of NASA’s all-time single space flight, which was set in 2016 by Scott Kelly.

“There’s a lot I miss from North Carolina, especially my friends and family that are down there,” she said.

On Saturday, she broke the record for the longest single space flight by a woman in history. The record was previously set by Peggy Whitson, who spent 288 days in space in 2017 to 2018.

She said she hopes her record will get broken again soon.

“It just would mean we’re continuing to push those boundaries,” Koch said.

Part of Koch’s mission includes learning about the effect of zero gravity on the body if humans ever colonize the moon or venture to Mars.

She’s been busy in the last 288 days conducting experiments, taking care of the space station and by making history. She took part in the first all-female spacewalk with fellow astronaut Jessica Meir.

“What means the most to me, really, is being a part of the team that got me here and giving back every day to that team,” Koch said.

Koch spends time snapping and posting breathtaking photos of Earth.

NC State grad set to break record for longest spaceflight by woman

Her favorites include the northern and southern lights. Koch is an inspiration to a lot of people, especially girls. Koch answered questions given to Tolison by 9- and 10-year-old sisters Avalynn and Lucy, of Matthews.

They asked if she always wanted to go to space and how long it took her.

“I have wanted to be an astronaut ever since I was a little girl growing up in North Carolina, looking up at the night sky from my small town in eastern North Carolina,” Koch said.

Koch is from Jacksonville and attended North Carolina State University. In 2013, NASA selected her as part of the first half-male, half-female astronaut class.

After six years of training, she made it into space, achieving a goal she always dreamed about.

“When you do attain those goals, those are the ones that are most rewarding to you personally, and they also are the ones that end up giving the most back to the world around you,” Koch said.

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