On Wednesday morning, NASA announced that Christina Koch, who already lives on the International Space Station, will extend her mission for 328 days. By doing so, she will be the second astronaut to spend almost a year inside the astronauts.
"I feel really good," Cork said in a video interview with the station. "I knew that this could be possible for a long time and that it is truly a dream to know that I can continue to work on a program that I have treasured for a lifetime … do your best to realize true honors and dreams for as long as possible "
Koch launched the station on March 14 with Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague. Due to scheduling, she is expected to remain on track with NASA astronaut Luca Parmitano and Roscosmos astronaut Alexander Skvortsov until February 2020 when they return from the Soyuz spacecraft. In doing so, Koch will set up a longest single space ship record for women whose NASA Peggy Whitson surpasses 288 days from 2017 to 2018 in space.
Her mission almost coincides with NASA 's Scott Kelly spending 340 days in space from March 2016 to March 2016. Though not in 365 days, NASA was enough to sell Kelly 's flight as a "one – year mission". "In contrast, Koch's flight is characterized by an" extended "stay in the station, which typically increases for about six months, and NASA's other astronaut Andrew Morgan will be flying from July 2019 I will spend about nine months at the station.
It should be long enough for NASA to collect additional data on the astronaut health and performance threats of long-term flight. A thorough study of Kelly and his twins Mark on Earth has raised concerns about DNA damage and cognitive decline during long flights.
NASA scientists say they hope to better understand these threats through the third and fourth US missions over 250 days and to be able to adapt and respond to the human body's microgravity problems. The researchers also hope to be able to respond to the effects of zero gravity so that astronauts visiting other worlds such as Mars can be healthy when they reach the surface.
NASA needs to find a faster and faster way to send humans to Mars instead of the current six to nine months of travel using existing technology, experts say. Some have argued that NASA must devise a spacecraft that can produce satellite gravity now, but there are currently no projects in this area. Others said travel should proceed faster with better momentum.
To this end, NASA recently resumed its nuclear thermal program at the Marshall Space Flight Center. A faster trip would mean less time in the universe and not only exposure to zero gravity and deep space radiation, but also exposure to more healthy astronauts after exploration and return to Earth.