Christina Koch is an American electrical engineer and a NASA astronaut. On December 22, 2019, Christina marked her 289th day in Space, hence, surpassing the world record set by the American astronaut Peggy Whitson for the longest single spaceflight time by a woman. She was launched to the International Space Center (ISS) on March 14, 2019, and landed back on earth on February 6, 2020, spending a total of 328 days in space.
Christina Koch was born on Monday, January 29, 1979 (age 41 years; as in 2020), in Grand Rapids, Michigan and grew up in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Her zodiac sign is Aquarius. Her full name is Christine Hammock Koch. She aspired to become an astronaut since her childhood. She completed her high schooling from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, in 1997. Later, she graduated from North Carolina State University in Raleigh in two Bachelor of Science degrees – Electrical Engineering and Physics (2001), and a master’s degree in electrical engineering (2002). Before completing her master’s degree, she had also enrolled herself in an intensive ten-week NASA Academy summer research program at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in 2001.
Parents & Siblings
Christina’s Father, Dr. Ronald M. Hammock was a urologist in Jacksonville. Her mother’s name is Barbara Johnson. She has a younger sister, Denise Clayton.
She lives with her husband Robert Koch in Galveston, Texas.
Christina Koch embarked on her career as an Electrical Engineer in 2002 at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics (an extreme study of the processes that occur within stars, black holes, and supernovae), where she contributed to scientific instruments on various NASA missions; studying cosmology and astrophysics. Koch was then hired as a Research Associate in the United States Antarctic Program from 2004 to 2007, spending three-and-a-half years traveling in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. During this period, she spent a year in Antarctica, the coldest place on earth, at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station and a season at Palmer Station, where she worked as a cryogenic technician.
She also worked as a member of the Firefighting Teams and Ocean and Glacier Search and Rescue Teams during her job as a Research Associate. Koch spent many winter seasons at the Summit Station in Greenland. Koch describes her stay in Antarctica as challenging, both mentally as well as physically. Koch persisted working at secluded scientific bases in Antarctica. In 2012, Koch served at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in dual capacities, initially, as a Field Engineer at NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division Baseline Observatory in Barrow Alaska, and later as the Station Chief of the American Samoa Observatory. In June 2013, Koch was selected as one of the eight astronaut candidates from more than 6300 applicants for NASA’s 21st class of astronauts.
In July 2015, she concluded her two years of intensive training, which included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, spacewalks, robotics, physiological training, T-38 flight training, and water and wilderness survival training, thus, declaring her fit for upcoming spaceflight assignments. Her dream turned into reality in 2018, when she was designated to her first space flight, the 59th Expedition; a long-duration mission on the International Space Station. On March 14, 2019, Christina Koch, who served as the Flight engineer, alongside the NASA Astronaut Nick Hague, and the Russian Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin was launched to the International Space Center (ISS), from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, aboard the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. The crew conducted and contributed to multifarious experiments in Biology, Earth science, Human Research, Physical Sciences and Technology development, counting improvements to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer in an attempt to increase its life and support its mission of studying evidence of dark matter and examining 3D biological printers to print organ-like tissues in microgravity. On December 28, 2019, the Forty-year-old American astronaut Christina Koch officially surpassed the record for the longest single spaceflight mission time by a woman, which was previously held by the American astronaut Peggy Whitson (289 days) in June 2017. She achieved this accomplishment on her first-ever spaceflight mission.
Congrats to @Astro_Christina! 🎊Today she has achieved a huge milestone: she now holds the record for the longest continuous stay in space by a woman. 👩🚀 Thanks for all of the science you have helped us conduct during your mission so far. 🔬 pic.twitter.com/6ok1dCOsP8
— ISS Research (@ISS_Research) December 28, 2019
During her time at ISS, Koch headed 6 spacewalks, contributing 42 hours and 15 min to her total Extravehicular activities (EVA). She spent a sum of 328 days in her prolonged stay in space before returning to earth on February 6, 2020.
Astronaut Christina Koch completes a record 328-day mission in space returning to Earth with Luca Parmitano and Alexander Skvortsov both of whom completed 201 days in space. #CongratChristina https://go.nasa.gov/2GZRYTH
Posted by International Space Station on Thursday, February 6, 2020
Awards & Honors
- NASA Group Achievement Award, NASA Juno Mission Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector Instrument, 2012
- Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Invention of the Year nominee, 2009
- The United States Congress Antarctic Service Medal with Winter‐Over distinction, 2005
- NASA Group Achievement Award, NASA Suzaku Mission X‐ray Spectrometer Instrument, 2005
- Astronaut Scholar, Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, 2000 to 2001.
Facts & Trivia
- Christina Koch considers her upbringing in North Carolina as one of the chief reasons why she became interested in space exploration. While talking about her upbringing in North Carolina, Koch said,
It’s my honor to be an inspiration and I certainly have people in my life when I was in N.C. that inspired me, so I’m hoping to give back. Just growing up in eastern N.C. it was a beautiful place and I count that as one of the many reasons I became interested in things like space and exploration. The ocean obviously is a beautiful thing in N.C. that we have as one of our treasures and of course NC State and all the opportunities there.”
- Koch believes that it was her parents who sparked her interest in science. Her mother studied biology, and her father, who is now a retired physician, studied chemistry and physics, and moreover, he had a keen interest in astronomy and astrophysics.
- While talking about Koch’s brilliance at academics, Josh Blondin, a professor and a senior associate dean at North Carolina State University, said in an interview with The News & Observer,
She had a thirst for knowledge. She wasn’t there to just get good grades, she was there to learn and get new experiences.”
- NASA selected Koch in June 2013, as one of the eight astronaut candidates for the 21st astronaut class, among more than 6,300 applicants.
- Christina Koch, a part of the 59th Expedition to the International Space Station, was initially supposed to return to Earth on 3 October 2019; however, due to crew-assignment changes, related to delays with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, her stay was stretched till February 6, 2020.
- On October 18, 2019, Koch participated in the first-ever all-woman spacewalk with fellow astronaut Jessica Meir.
- Through her mission, Koch orbited the Earth 5248 times, marking a travel distance of 139 million miles.