Astronaut Christina Koch has returned to Earth after a record-setting 328 days in space, CNN reports. The honorary Texan said that she grew to miss the feeling of sand of Galveston beaches between her feet while she was in space.
At about 4:12 a.m. Eastern Time, a Soyuz spacecraft carrying Koch and two of her colleagues, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, landed in the wide-open grasslands of Kazakhstan, bringing an end to Koch’s record-setting space flight.
With her 328 days on the International Space Station, she sets a record for the longest amount of time a woman has spent in space. She also set another record while up there by participating in the first all-female spacewalk with colleague Jessica Meir, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.
During her time on board the International Space Station, she completed six trips outside the vehicle, spending a total of 42 hours and 15 minutes outside the craft.
Science Experiments With Herself As The Test Subject
Koch, like all astronauts, is a scientist first and an explorer second. During her 12 months in space, she participated in multiple scientific experiments, including some in which she herself was a test subject.
For example, as NASA has a view toward some day sending astronauts to Mars — a years-long commitment for any human who undertakes it — the space agency is interested in seeing the toll expended periods in space take on the human body.
Koch, for example, was a participant in the Vertebral Strength study, which sought ways to counter the long-term effects of micro gravity — such as bone and muscle loss — with preventive medicine and exercise.
Another study, the Kidney Cells study, took a look at the long-term effects of micro gravity on human kidneys. The study investigated, among other things, possible treatments for kidney stones and osteoporosis.
Koch also helped install an actual laboratory on the spacecraft, the BioFabrication Facility, which can essentially 3-D print organ-like tissues in space. The implications are huge as researchers on the ground have had mixed success with printing organs and tissues, some of which are resistant to being manufactured here on Earth but can be printed in space.
The Simple Things In Life
Now that she’s been confined to a spacecraft about 250 miles above the surface of the Earth for the better part of a year, Koch says she’s come to miss the relatively simple pleasures of home.
“Oh, how I miss the wind on my face, the feeling of raindrops, sand on my feet and the sound of the surf crashing on the Galveston beach,” she said.