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NASA astronaut Christina Koch is going to break a record on her first spaceflight, the agency announced yesterday (April 16).
Koch, who launched to the space station on March 14 with colleague Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, will remain in orbit for 328 days, returning to Earth in February 2020, according to the new flight schedule. Her colleague, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, who is scheduled to make his first flight in July, will also remain in orbit for longer than usual, returning in the spring of 2020.
Scott - Kelly - Record - NASA - Spaceflight
Scott Kelly holds the record for NASA's longest continuous spaceflight at 340 days, a record Koch will not be breaking. But she will likely surpass the current record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman: Currently, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson holds that record with 288 days.
The newly announced schedule is the result of conversations between NASA, the Russian space agency Roscosmos and other International Space Station partners. Space station missions typically last for about six and a half months. One motivation for the unusual flight schedule, NASA officials explained, was to gather more data on how human bodies respond to longer spaceflights.
Astronauts - Demonstrate - Resilience - Adaptability - Response
"Astronauts demonstrate amazing resilience and adaptability in response to long duration spaceflight exposure," Jennifer Fogarty, chief scientist of the Human Research Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in the statement. "This will enable successful exploration missions with healthy, performance-ready astronauts. NASA is looking to build on what we have learned with additional astronauts in space for more than 250 days. Christina's extended mission will provide additional data for NASA's Human Research Program and continue to support future missions to the Moon and Mars."
There's a more pragmatic reasons...
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