Christina Hammock Koch looks on as her spacesuit is tested. File / Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP
NASA astronaut Christina Koch is going to have her mission on the International Space Station (ISS) extended to nearly 11 months, which would set a record for the longest spaceflight by a woman, the US space agency said Wednesday.
Koch, 40, arrived on the ISS on March 14 with two other crew members − an American and a Russian − for what was initially planned to be a six-month mission.
The two other astronauts will return to Earth on Oct.3 but Koch's stay would be extended until February 2020, which would beat the record held by another female US astronaut, Peggy Whitson, who spent 288 days aboard the ISS in 2016-17, NASA said.
"It feels awesome," Koch said when told her mission was being prolonged.
"I have known that this was a possibility for a long time and it's truly a dream come true."
Jennifer Fogarty, chief scientist of NASA's Human Research Program, said Koch's extended mission would provide additional data about the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body and "support future missions to the Moon and Mars."
The record for an extended spaceflight by an American is held by US astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent 340 days aboard the ISS in 2015-16 with Russian Mikhail Kornienko.
The longest ever spaceflight was by Russia's Valery Polyakov, who spent 14 months aboard the Mir space station in 1994-95.
The current team aboard the ISS is made up of three Americans − Koch, Anne McClain and Nick Hague − two Russians − Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin − and a Canadian, David Saint-Jacques.
Between June and September, several astronauts will return to Earth and be replaced by others, including an Italian, Luca Parmitano, and the first ever astronaut from the United Arab Emirates, Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, who will spend about a week in space.
Astronauts are currently flown to and from the ISS using Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. US manufacturers SpaceX and Boeing are developing their own transports and those are scheduled to be ready by the end of the year.
The ISS − a rare area of cooperation between Moscow and Washington − has been orbiting the Earth since 1998.
NASA's Mars Helicopter has successfully completed a series of tests and is ready to take flight over the Red Planet, the US space agency said. "The next time we fly, we fly on Mars," MiMi Aung, Project Manager for Mars Helicopter at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.
The prolonged bed rest is part of the "Artificial Gravity Bed Rest" Study that launched this week into the effects of weightlessness on the human body.
NASA have made it clear they want astronauts back on the Moon in 2024, and now, they are zeroing in on the Red Planet -- the US space agency confirmed that it wants humans to reach Mars by 2033.
As Europe sizzled Tuesday at the start of a heatwave tipped to break records, drivers on Germany's famously speedy motorways were ordered to slow down and fans at the women's World Cup were showered in health warnings.
Growth in the West bank and Gaza has to be focused on creating jobs, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday, as she discussed the Trump administration’s $50 billion economic plan
Two GEMS Education schools, The Millennium School and GEMS Jumeirah Primary School have collectively raised Dhs 500,000 for Dubai Cares ‘Adopt a School’ initiative, which will go towards the establishment of new community-based schools in Nepal and Cambodia.
Shocking images of a drowned Salvadoran migrant and his two-year-old daughter who died while trying to cross the Rio Grande river from Mexico to the United States have sparked outrage, underscoring the dangers faced by asylum-seekers.