NASA astronaut will break the record for longest spaceflight by a woman after the agency extends her mission to 11 months.


NASA astronaut Christina Koch will soon set the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman. The space agency set a new schedule and assignments for the crew on the International Space Station this week, revealing Koch's mission has been extended to a total of 11 months. Koch arrived at ISS on March 14 and is now expected to remain in orbit until February 2020. This will bring her total time away from Earth to a number just shy of the all-time record for the longest single spaceflight  340 days, set by former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and eclipse the 288-day milestone set by Peggy Whitson in 2016-17. As part of NASA's study of the effects of long spaceflights on the human body, Koch will spend 328 days in space. The 40-year-old astronaut has been in orbit since last month.' One month down. Ten to go,' Koch wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. 'Privileged to contribute my best every single day of it.' In late March, NASA cancelled what would have been the first all-female spacewalk with Koch and astronaut Anne McClain due to a lack of a spacesuit in the right size for McClain.The walk was would have occurred during the final week of Women's History Month. Onboard the orbiting space station, astronauts work on a range of experiments in biology, biotechnology, health, earth, space and other sciences. The typical stay for astronauts is six months, NASA said.' NASA is looking to build on what we have learned with additional astronauts in space for more than 250 days,' said Jennifer Fogarty, a chief scientist for NASA's Human Research Program in a statement. Astronaut Peggy Whitson holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, staying in orbit 288 days in 2016 and 2017, NASA said.' It's my honour to follow in Peggy's footsteps,' Koch said in a video from the International Space Station, orbiting over 200 miles (322 km) above the earth.
Of the more than 500 people who have travelled to space, fewer than 11 per cent have been women. But Koch graduated from NASA's 2013 class of astronauts that was 50 per cent women. The overall NASA record of 340 days, set in 2016, is held by astronaut Scott Kelly in an experiment to compare his physical and mental health to his identical twin Mark Kelly, who remained on earth. Mark Kelly is married to former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot and gravely wounded in 2011 by a gunman who killed six people and wounded 13 others in a supermarket parking lot.