Record-setting North Carolina astronaut feels good after near year in space

Record-setting North Carolina astronaut feels good after near year in space
U.S. astronaut Christina Koch reacts shortly after the landing of the Russian Soyuz MS-13 space capsule about 150 km ( 80 miles) south-east of the Kazakh town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Koch wrapped up a 328-day mission on her first flight into space, providing researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman as the agency plans to return to the Moon under the Artemis program. (Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool Photo via AP) (Sergei Ilnitsky)

GALVESTON, Texas — NASA's new record-setting astronaut said Wednesday that aside from sore muscles and trouble with balance, she's readjusting well to gravity after nearly 11 months in space.

Christina Koch met with reporters in Houston six days after returning to Earth from the International Space Station. Her 328-day mission — which ended last Thursday — was the longest ever by a woman.

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Her neck hurt for about a day. “I felt like a 2-week-old who was actually working hard to hold up my own head," she said.

She considers herself lucky she didn't have the sore feet and burning skin suffered four years ago by NASA's all-time endurance champ, Scott Kelly, whose mission lasted 340 days.

Channel 9 speaks with record-breaking NC astronaut as she prepares to return to Earth

Koch returned home to Galveston, Texas, to find a kitchen full of chips and salsa, something she'd craved in orbit, along with the Gulf of Mexico. She hit the beach with her husband, Bob, and their dog, a rescue pup named LBD for Little Brown Dog, just three days after her landing in Kazakhstan.

LBD was excited to see her, and vice versa.

“I'm not sure who was more excited to see the other,” Koch said.

Their reunion was recorded.

“It’s just a symbol of coming back to the people and places that you love, to see your favorite animal," she said.

The 41-year-old Koch is an electrical engineer who also has a physics degree. She flew to the space station last March and was part of the first all-female spacewalk in October. Three astronauts remain at the orbiting lab, including the other half of the all-female spacewalk, NASA’s Jessica Meir.

SEE: NASA astronaut Christina Koch back on Earth