International Space Station Current Affairs - 2020

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NASA astronaut Christina Koch sets record for longest single spaceflight by woman

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Astronaut Christina Koch has created a record for longest single spaceflight by a woman, after surpassing the earlier record of 288 days in space with about two months left in her mission. Christina, who is onboard the International Space Station (ISS) since 14 March 2019, would have spent over 300 days in space by the time she arrives back on Earth in February 2020.

About Christina Koch

She is an electrical engineer from Livingston, Montana. She arrived at International Space Station on 24 March 2019. She broke the record set in 2016-2017, by Peggy Whitson, a former space station commander.

The 40-year-old Christina is expected to spend a total of 328 days (or nearly 11 months), onboard the space station before returning to Earth. NASA Missions are typically 6 months, but the US Space Agency announced in April 2019 that it was extending her mission until February 2020.

Koch’s extended mission will help NASA learn about effects of long spaceflights. As per NASA officials, this data is needed to support future deep space exploration missions to Moon and Mars.

Other Records

The US record for longest space flight is 340 days, which was set by Scott Kelly in 2015-2016. However, the world record is 15 months set in 1990s by a Russian cosmonaut aboard the former Mir space station (that operated from 1986 to 2001).

Before breaking the endurance record for a woman in space, Koch has set another milestone as part of first all-female spacewalking team in October 2019. It was her fourth spacewalk.

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First all-women spacewalk conducted outside International Space Station

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch made history when they ventured outside International Space Station (ISS) for first ever all women spacewalk. It was the first time in more than half a century of space exploration that two women astronauts walked in space together.

Key Highlights

Christina Koch had already carried out four spacewalks but it was the first such mission for Jessica Meir, who became the 15th woman to walk in space.

They spent seven hours outside ISS replacing a failed power control unit and made their way to a location called Port 6 truss structure to replace battery charge-discharge unit (BCDU).

NASA was hoping to have an all-female spacewalk in March 2019 but it was then canceled after astronaut Anne McClain discovered that spacesuit she was to wear did not fit properly, due to which astronaut Nick Hague went in her place.

NOTE:

First woman to spacewalk– Russian Svetlana Savitskaya on 25 July 1984. She went outside USSR’s Salyut 7 space station for 3 hours, 35 minutes.

First person (in history) to spacewalk– Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov.

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