Feb 6, 2020 - Science

Astronaut Christina Koch lands on Earth after record-setting mission

NASA's Christina Koch. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA astronaut Christina Koch is back on Earth after spending 328 days in space, living and working onboard the International Space Station.

Why it matters: During her time in orbit, Koch participated in the first all-woman spacewalk and set a record for the longest continuous spaceflight by a female astronaut in history.

  • She and her fellow crewmates — the European Space Agency's Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov — landed back on Earth in Kazakhstan at 4:12 a.m. ET.

The big picture: Koch's nearly yearlong mission is part of NASA's effort to learn more about how the human body responds to long duration spaceflight ahead of sending people to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

  • Scott Kelly is the only astronaut with a longer flight under his belt, with a mission that lasted 340 days.

By the numbers: According to NASA, Koch orbited Earth in 5,248 times during her months in orbit.

  • That equates to about 139 million miles traveled.
  • She also performed six spacewalks, spending 42 hours and 15 minutes outside of the station in total.

Go deeper

Applications are now open to become a NASA astronaut

Photo: NASA

Applications are now open for every fifth grader's dream job: NASA astronaut.

Why it matters: The space agency doesn't put out a call for new astronauts unless they have a need to fill.

Go deeperArrowMar 3, 2020 - Science

Northrop Grumman sends cheese and sweets to International Space Station

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft onboard, launches on Feb. 15. Photo: Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via Getty Images

Defense contractor and aerospace giant Northrop Grumman successfully launched its 13th supply run to the International Space Station on Saturday afternoon, which included cheese and candy for station astronauts.

Details: The launch followed multiple mission attempts this week that were foiled due to bad weather and launch pad equipment concerns, per AP. The Cygnus NG-13 launch at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia is carrying nearly 7,500 pounds of hardware, crew supplies and research, per NASA.

Go deeper: NASA looks to private companies to help commercialize low-Earth orbit

SpaceX inks deal to fly space tourists to orbit

NASA astronaut Suni Williams inside a mockup of a Crew Dragon capsule. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX has penned a deal with the space tourism outfit Space Adventures to launch private citizens to orbit aboard the company's Crew Dragon capsule.

Why it matters: SpaceX is building and testing the Crew Dragon to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, but this announcement shows they're thinking about orbital space tourism as a possible driver of revenue for them in the future.

Go deeperArrowFeb 18, 2020 - Science