Nasa astronaut Christina Koch during a spacewalk on January 15, 2020.
American astronaut Christina Koch, who led the first all-female spacewalk in 2019, landed in Kazakhstan on Thursday after a record stay on the International Space Station, ending a 328-day mission expected to yield new insights into deep-space travel.
Koch, a North Carolina-born engineer who joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2013, set the record for the longest stay in space by a woman. Her mission will provide researchers valuable data on how weightlessness and space radiation affect the female body on long spaceflights.
"Women acclimate well to space, so I think this is a milestone that will be overtaken by women in the future and it's what we aspire to," said Lori Garver, NASA's former deputy administrator.
The Soyuz MS-13 capsule touched down on the snowy Kazakh Steppe at 4:12 am ET (0912 GMT) carrying Koch, 41, European astronaut Luca Parmitano of Italy and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov.
They will be flown by search and recovery teams to the Karaganda region to begin their journey home.
"I'm just so overwhelmed and happy right now," Koch said, sitting in a chair wrapped in blankets as she waited to be carried into a medical tent to restore her balance in gravity.
Koch had already made history by that point after she became one half of the first-ever all-woman spacewalk along with Nasa counterpart Jessica Meir in October.
"It's really fun to be in a place where you can just bounce around between the ceiling and the floor whenever you want," she said, smiling as she twisted her body around the ISS.
'Make space for women'
Koch called three-time flyer Whitson "a heroine of mine" and a "mentor" in the space programme after she surpassed the 59-year-old's record.
She also spoke of her desire to "inspire the next generation of explorers."
Koch's return comes after an advert produced by the skincare brand Olay ran during an intermission in the American football Super Bowl with a call to "make space for women."
The advert featured Nasa astronaut Nicole Stott and saw the company promise to donate up to $500,000 to the nonprofit Women Who Code, which works with young women seeking careers in tech and scientific fields.
This year's Super Bowl was watched by over 100 million people while advert space costs more than $5 million for a 30-second commercial.
The first woman in space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova whose spaceflight in 1963 is still the only solo mission carried out by a woman.
But the cosmonauts Russia has sent to the ISS since expeditions began in 2000 have all been men with the exception of Yelena Serova's launch in 2014.
Both Tereshkova and Serova are now lawmakers in the Russian parliament, where they represent the ruling United Russia party.
Unlike Koch, whose stay aboard the ISS was extended, Parmitano and Skvortsov are rounding off regular six-month missions.
Parmitano handed over command of the ISS to Roscosmos' Oleg Skripochka on Tuesday.
The 43-year-old Italian posted regular shots of the Earth while aboard, highlighting the plight of the Amazon rainforest and poetically describing the Alps as "like a spinal column, never bending to time."
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.
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.
'I'm so excited that we finally get to share what we have been working on for the past year!' the 29 year-old Bouman said.
The Chinese city, Shenzhen has banned consumption of dogs and cats as part of a clampdown on the wildlife trade since the emergence of the novel coronavirus.
The Ministry said a 62-year old Asian expat and a 78-year old GCC national who tested positive for COVID-19 died due to complications related to chronic diseases. This brings death toll to eight.
An Australian tourist who was infected with the new coronavirus (Covid-19) thanked the UAE health sector for the care and treatment she received and helped her recover from the virus. She reportedly landed at Dubai Airport as a transit passenger on her way from Britain to Australia.