NASA uses extended ISS missions as an opportunity to study the effects of long-duration human spaceflight as it looks ahead to missions to the moon and Mars.
Northrop Grumman launched its 11th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station on Wednesday.
Cygnus is packed with research, supplies for the astronauts and hardware for the space station, including three free-flying, cube-shaped autonomous robots. Koch will come close to the overall NASA record now held by Scott Kelly, who spent 340 days in space from 2015 to 2016. Instead, Koch did her spacewalk with fellow astronaut Nick Hague, making her the 14th woman to do a spacewalk, NASA reports.
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An electrical engineer who's worked in Antarctica, Koch will undergo medical tests during her stay.
Koch will break the record of 288 days for the longest single spaceflight by a woman at the end of December. This research will support future deep space expeditions to the moon and Mars, according to WTVD. As NASA gathers more data, the space agency will increasingly be able to detect variability among individuals, and important differences between men and women. "This will enable successful exploration missions with healthy, performance-ready astronauts". She completed astronaut candidate training in July 2015.
Russian Federation still holds the world's space endurance record. Meir also previously worked for Lockheed Martin's Human Research Facility, participated in reduced gravity research flights, took part in diving expeditions to the Antarctic and Belize, and served as a spaceflight analog crewmember for a NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations underwater mission and an ESA caving mission (ESA CAVES).
A month later, NASA's Andrew Morgan, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, and Roscosmos' Alexander Skvortsov are scheduled to join the mission, returning the ISS's crew to six. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.