Christina Koch May be Chosen to Travel to the Moon

Astronaut Christina Koch has returned from the International Space Station (ISS) after it set an 11-month record of living on board of the orbiting lab.

The astronaut said she is re-adapting to gravity with ease: “I feel great,” she told reporters at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “I’m really fortunate, a lot of people … when you’re re-adapting to one G (gravity) on Earth, you might experience some motion sickness and things like that. I’m really fortunate in that I have not experienced that. What I have noticed is that my balance has taken a little while to get used to.”

Back to Earth

She felt some soreness in muscles that she did not use much, such as a sore neck, which made her feel ‘like a two-week-old, actually working hard to hold up my own head.’ Besides the physical sensations of being on the surface of Earth, Koch said that she was amazed by the ‘sensory experiences that define Earth and the things that are here.’

“Within the first two minutes of being back on Earth, I saw more people’s faces that I had seen in a year,” she said. “So that was really exciting, it’s just fun to interact with people again.”

Koch, who has a master’s degree in electrical engineering, traveled to the ISS on March 14th, 2019. After she arrived at the orbiting lab, NASA announced that they have to extend her mission, mainly because of postpones in launching the U.S. commercial crew flights being constructed by SpaceX and Boeing.

While she stayed at the space station, Koch was part of six spacewalks, which totaled 42 hours and 15 minutes. Together with astronaut Jessica Meir, she performed the first all-female spacewalk in October 2019, replacing a broken solar array battery charge controller. The two women performed two more spacewalks on January 15th and 20th to finish the battery replacement that started in October.

One of the Most Experienced Astronomers

Koch returned to Earth with the commander of the Soyuz MS-13/59S, Alexander Skvortsov, and Italian flight engineer Luca Parmitano on February 6th. They touched down in Kazakhstan and completed the longest single space mission by a female astronaut or cosmonaut: 328 days, 13 hours, and 58 minutes. Koch is now ranked number 7th on the most experienced NASA astronauts list, and the 50th in the world.

“It is a great honor,” Koch said of her record. “My biggest hope is that it’s exceeded as soon as possible. That means we’re pushing the boundaries: more people are living up to their dreams and their potential. So my main message to anyone who has a dream is to follow your passions. Be true to yourself, do what you love, and live the life that you’ve imagined for yourself.”

NASA is, at the moment, focused on sending the first woman and a man to the Moon by the end of 2024. The space agency’s administrator Jim Bridenstine has stated that the ones who will travel to the Moon will be chosen from NASA’s current group of astronauts who have lived and carried out research onboard the International Space Station.

Koch stated in the interview that she would be happy to go if she will be selected.

“Of course, me or anyone in our office would be honored beyond measure to be a part of that mission and to again carry people’s dreams even farther into space,” she said. “I am just excited that I’ll probably know the first woman and the next man to walk on the surface of the moon, but any of us would be ready and honored to accept that mission if it were offered to us.”

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