NASA Astronaut Koch Returns to Earth After Record Space Mission

(Reuters) -
Russian Soyuz MS-13 space capsule descends in a remote area southeast of Zhezkazgan in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, Thursday. (Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool via Reuters)

A capsule carrying a crew of three from the International Space Station, including record-setting United States astronaut Christina Koch, landed in Kazakhstan on Thursday, a live feed by Russian space agency Roscosmos showed.

The touchdown on a snow-covered steppe also marked the return to Earth of Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russia’s Alexander Skvortsov.

Koch’s 328-day space mission broke the record for the longest continuous stay in space by a woman, previously held by NASA’s Peggy Whitson.

She also achieved a gender milestone in a relatively routine spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir last October that marked the first time two women stepped out of the space station at the same time.

Astronauts on the space station, whose 20th anniversary in low-Earth orbit comes later this year, have tallied 227 maintenance spacewalks, nearly two dozen of which included women astronauts, according to NASA. Koch and Meir conducted two more spacewalks together in January.

Launched into orbit last March, Koch’s mission was extended in April from its original span of six months to nearly a year after she was already aboard the station.