Christina Koch

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Christina Koch
Christina Koch official portrait in an EMU.jpg
Koch wearing an EMU suit
Christina Hammock

(1979-01-29) January 29, 1979 (age 41)
Alma mater North Carolina State University
Space career
NASA Astronaut
Time in space
328 days 13 hours 58 minutes
Selection 2013 NASA Group
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
42h 15min
Missions Soyuz MS-12/Soyuz MS-13 (Expedition 59/60/61)
Mission insignia
Soyuz-MS-12-Mission-Patch.png ISS Expedition 59 Patch.svg ISS Expedition 60 Patch.svg ISS Expedition 61 Patch.svg Soyuz-MS-13-Mission-Patch.png

Christina Hammock Koch ( /kk/ ; born January 29, 1979) is an American engineer and NASA astronaut of the class of 2013. [1] [2] She received Bachelor of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University. [3] She also did advanced study while working at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). Just before becoming an astronaut, she served with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as Station Chief for American Samoa. [4]


On March 14, 2019, Koch launched to the International Space Station as a Flight Engineer on Expedition 59, 60 and 61. On October 18, 2019, she and Jessica Meir were the first women to participate in an all-female spacewalk. [5] On December 28, 2019, Koch broke the record for longest continuous time in space by a woman. [6] She returned from space on February 6, 2020. [7]

Koch was included in Time magazine 's 100 Most Influential People of 2020. [8]

Early life and education

Christina was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, [9] and raised in Jacksonville, North Carolina, [10] by parents Barbara Johnsen of Frederick, Maryland, and Ronald Hammock of Jacksonville. [11] Koch's childhood dream was to become an astronaut. [12]

Koch graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham in 1997, and then enrolled at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, from which she earned two Bachelor of Science degrees, in electrical engineering and physics (2001), and a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering (2002). [13] [11] In 2001, she became a graduate of the NASA Academy program at GSFC. [11]

Research and training

Koch signals her success in starting a fire during wilderness survival training in 2013 Astronaut Candidates Light a Fire (39330542634).jpg
Koch signals her success in starting a fire during wilderness survival training in 2013

Koch has worked in the space science instrument development and remote scientific field engineering fields. During her time working as an electrical engineer at NASA GSFC's Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics, she contributed to scientific instruments on several NASA missions that studied astrophysics and cosmology. [11] During this time, she also served as Adjunct Faculty at Montgomery College in Maryland and led a Physics Laboratory course. [11]

Koch worked as a Research Associate in the United States Antarctic Program from 2004 to 2007, spending three-and-a-half years traveling the Arctic and Antarctic regions. [11] [14] She completed a winter-over season at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station where she experienced minus-111 degree Fahrenheit (-79.4 C) temperatures. [14] She completed an additional season at Palmer Station. While in Antarctica, Koch served as a member of the Firefighting Teams and Ocean/Glacier Search and Rescue Teams. [11] She has described her time in the South Pole as challenging mentally and physically: [14] "[This] means going months without seeing the sun, with the same crew, and without shipments of mail or fresh food. The isolation, absence of family and friends, and lack of new sensory inputs are all conditions that you must find a strategy to thrive within." [15]

From 2007 to 2009, Koch worked as an Electrical Engineer in the Space Department of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University focusing on space science instrument development. [11] She contributed to instruments studying radiation particles for NASA missions, including the Juno and Van Allen Probes. [11] The following year, Koch completed tours of Palmer Station in Antarctica and multiple winter seasons at Summit Station in Greenland. [11] In 2012, she worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in two capacities: first as a Field Engineer at NOAA's Global Monitoring Division Baseline Observatory in Barrow Alaska, and then as Station Chief of the American Samoa Observatory. [11]

Astronaut career

Koch graduated from the NASA Academy program at GSFC in 2001. She worked as an Electrical Engineer in the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics at GSFC from 2002 to 2004. [16]

In June 2013, Koch was selected by NASA as part of Astronaut Group 21. She completed training in July 2015, making her available for future missions. [2] Her Astronaut Candidate Training 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. [11]

Expedition 59 crew members Anne McClain, Oleg Kononenko, and David Saint-Jacques welcome their new crew members, Nick Hague, Alexey Ovchinin, and Koch (bottom right) who arrived at the International Space Station on March 14, 2019. Expedition 59 welcoming ceremony.jpg
Expedition 59 crew members Anne McClain, Oleg Kononenko, and David Saint-Jacques welcome their new crew members, Nick Hague, Alexey Ovchinin, and Koch (bottom right) who arrived at the International Space Station on March 14, 2019.

On March 14, 2019, Koch launched to the International Space Station on Soyuz MS-12, alongside Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague, to join the Expedition 59/60/61 crew. [17]

Koch was scheduled to perform her first EVA on March 29; this would have been the first all-female spacewalk alongside Anne McClain, but spacesuit sizing issues resulted in it being reassigned from McClain to Hague. [18] Koch performed the first all-female spacewalk with Jessica Meir on October 18, as part of a lengthy series of upgrades to the ISS’ power systems and physics observatories. [19] [20] [21] Koch and Meir followed the historic walk with two more female team walks in January 2020. [7]

On April 17, 2019, due to reassignment schedules with the Commercial Crew Development program, Koch's mission was extended to February 2020. She returned to Earth on February 6 after 328 days – the longest single continuous stay in space for a woman, exceeding Peggy Whitson's 289 days. [22] In addition, for a first-time astronaut, this NASA mission change has never happened before. [23] [24] [25] Koch's extended mission is being used to study the physical, biological, and mental effects of long-term space travel on women. [26]

Personal life

Koch resides in Texas with her husband, Robert Koch. [3] She enjoys backpacking, rock climbing, paddling, sailing, running, yoga, community service, photography, surfing and travel. [11]

Awards and honors

Koch has won a number of awards during her tenure at NASA and Johns Hopkins, including the 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; 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. [11]

Related Research Articles

Extravehicular activity Activity done by an astronaut or cosmonaut outside a spacecraft

Extravehicular activity (EVA) is any activity done by an astronaut or cosmonaut outside a spacecraft beyond the Earth's appreciable atmosphere. The term most commonly applies to a spacewalk made outside a craft orbiting Earth. On March 18, 1965, Alexei Leonov became the first human to perform a spacewalk, exiting the capsule during the Voskhod 2 mission for 12 minutes and 9 seconds. The term also applied to lunar surface exploration performed by six pairs of American astronauts in the Apollo program from 1969 to 1972. On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to perform a moonwalk, outside his lunar lander on Apollo 11 for 2 hours and 31 minutes. On the last three Moon missions astronauts also performed deep-space EVAs on the return to Earth, to retrieve film canisters from the outside of the spacecraft. Astronauts Pete Conrad, Joseph Kerwin, and Paul Weitz also used EVA in 1973 to repair launch damage to Skylab, the United States' first space station.

Aleksandr Kaleri Russian cosmonaut

Aleksandr "Sasha" Yuriyevich Kaleri is a Russian cosmonaut and veteran of extended stays on the Mir Space Station and the International Space Station (ISS). Kaleri has most recently been in space aboard the ISS serving as a flight engineer for the long duration Expedition 25/26 missions. He has spent the fourth-longest time in space of any person, the longest time in space of any currently active cosmonaut, and the longest time in space of any person not born in what is now Russia.

Peggy Whitson American biochemistry researcher and NASA astronaut

Peggy Annette Whitson is an American biochemistry researcher, retired NASA astronaut, and former NASA Chief Astronaut. Her first space mission was in 2002, with an extended stay aboard the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 5. Her second mission launched October 10, 2007, as the first female commander of the ISS with Expedition 16. She was on her third long-duration space flight and was the commander of the International Space Station for Expedition 51, before handing over command to Fyodor Yurchikhin on June 1, 2017.

Stephanie Wilson American engineer and a NASA astronaut

Stephanie Diana Wilson is an American engineer and a NASA astronaut. She flew to space onboard three Space Shuttle missions, and is the second African American woman to go into space, after Mae Jemison. Her 42 days in space are the most of any African American astronaut, male or female.

Shannon Walker American scientist and NASA astronaut

Shannon Walker is an American physicist and a NASA astronaut selected in 2004. She launched on her first mission into space on 25 June 2010 onboard Soyuz TMA-19 and has currently logged 163 days in space over one long-duration mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Nicole Stott American engineer and a NASA astronaut

Nicole Marie Passonno Stott is an American engineer and a retired NASA astronaut. She served as a Flight Engineer on ISS Expedition 20 and Expedition 21 and was a Mission Specialist on STS-128 and STS-133. After 27 years of working at NASA, the space agency announced her retirement effective June 1, 2015. She is married to Christopher Stott, a Manx-born American space entrepreneur.

Thomas Marshburn American physician and NASA astronaut

Thomas Henry "Tom" Marshburn is an American physician and a NASA astronaut. He served as a Mission Specialist on STS-127. Marshburn was a member of the Soyuz TMA-07M crew which launched to ISS in December 2012 to join Expedition 34.

Akihiko Hoshide Japanese engineer and JAXA astronaut

Akihiko Hoshide is a Japanese engineer and JAXA astronaut. On August 30, 2012, Hoshide became the third Japanese astronaut to walk in space.

Bob Behnken US Air Force officer, NASA astronaut and former Chief of the Astronaut Office

Robert Louis Behnken is a NASA astronaut, engineer, and former Chief of the Astronaut Office. Behnken holds a Ph.D in mechanical engineering and the rank of colonel in the U.S. Air Force, where he served before joining NASA in 2000. He flew aboard Space Shuttle missions STS-123 (2008) and STS-130 (2010) as a mission specialist, accumulating over 708 hours in space, including 55 hours of spacewalk time. He is married to fellow astronaut K. Megan McArthur.

Luca Parmitano Italian engineer, pilot and ESA astronaut

Colonel Luca Parmitano is an Italian astronaut in the European Astronaut Corps for the European Space Agency (ESA). He was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009. Parmitano is also a Colonel and test pilot for the Italian Air Force. Parmitano is the youngest non-Russian astronaut to undertake a long-duration mission, at 36 years and eight months old on the launch day of his mission.

NASA Astronaut Group 21 Group of 8 selected in June 2013

NASA Astronaut Group 21 In 2011 NASA opened applications for Astronaut Group 21. The team was announced in June 2013 after a year and a half long search. With four men and four women, the class of 2013 had the highest percentage of female finalists. According to NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins, "it's… a reflection of how many really talented women are in science and engineering these days." NASA received a total of over 6,300 applications, which made it the second highest number received at the time.

Jessica Meir astronaut, physiologist

Jessica Ulrika Meir is an American-born NASA astronaut, marine biologist, and physiologist. She was previously Assistant Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, following postdoctoral research in comparative physiology at the University of British Columbia. She has studied the diving physiology and behavior of emperor penguins in Antarctica, and the physiology of bar-headed geese, which are able to migrate over the Himalayas. In September 2002, Meir served as an aquanaut on the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations 4 crew. In 2013 she was selected by NASA to Astronaut Group 21. Meir launched on September 25, 2019, to the ISS onboard Soyuz MS-15, where she served as a flight Engineer during Expedition 61 and 62. On October 18, 2019, Meir and Christina Koch were the first women to participate in an all-female spacewalk. The Soyuz capsule carrying Jessica Meir and fellow astronauts Andrew Morgan and Oleg Skripochka touched down on Friday April 17, 2020 near the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 11.16am local time.

Nick Hague American astronaut and air force pilot

Tyler Nicklaus Hague is an American flight test engineer and a NASA astronaut of the class of 2013. Selected to be a flight engineer on the International Space Station, his first launch was on Soyuz MS-10, which aborted shortly after take-off on 11 October 2018. His second launch, on 14 March 2019, was successful, taking him and his fellow Soyuz MS-12 crew members to join ISS Expedition 59/60.

Anne McClain US Army officer and astronaut

Anne Charlotte McClain is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, engineer and a NASA astronaut. Her call sign, "Annimal", dates back to her bruising rugby days; she also uses the call sign in her Twitter handle, AstroAnnimal. She was a Flight Engineer for Expedition 58/59 to the International Space Station.

Andrew R. Morgan American astronaut

Andrew Richard "Drew" Morgan is a NASA astronaut from the class of 2013.

Expedition 59

Expedition 59 was the 59th Expedition to the International Space Station. It started with the arrival of the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft carrying Aleksey Ovchinin, Nick Hague and Christina Koch, joining Oleg Kononenko, David Saint-Jacques and Anne McClain who transferred from Expedition 58. The expedition formally began on March 15, 2019. Ovchinin and Hague were originally meant to fly to the ISS aboard Soyuz MS-10, but returned to Earth minutes after takeoff due to a contingency abort. The expedition formally ended with the undocking of the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft carrying Kononenko, Saint-Jacques and McClain on 24 June 2019; Ovchinin, Hague and Koch transferred to Expedition 60.

Expedition 61 Mission to the International Space Station

Expedition 61 was the 61st Expedition to the International Space Station, which began on 3 October 2019 with the undocking of the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. The Expedition was commanded by ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, who became the third European and first Italian astronaut to command the ISS. Parmitano, along with his Soyuz MS-13 colleagues Aleksandr Skvortsov and Andrew Morgan, and Christina Koch from Soyuz MS-12, transferred over from Expedition 60. They were joined by Oleg Skripochka and Jessica Meir, who launched on 25 September 2019 on board Soyuz MS-15.


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