Christina Koch

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Christina Koch
Koch at a NASA news conference in 2023
Christina Hammock

(1979-01-29) January 29, 1979 (age 44)
Alma materNorth Carolina State University
Space career
NASA Astronaut
Time in space
328 days 13 hours 58 minutes
Selection2013 NASA Group
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
42h 15min
MissionsSoyuz MS-12/Soyuz MS-13 (Expedition 59/60/61), Artemis 2
Mission insignia
ISS Expedition 59 logo ISS Expedition 60 logo ISS Expedition 61 logo

Christina Hammock Koch (/kʊk/ COOK; 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 at North Carolina State University.[3] She also did advanced study while working at the Goddard Space Flight Center. Just before becoming an astronaut, she served at 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 to replace a down power control unit located outside of the International Space Station.[5][6] On December 28, 2019, Koch broke the record for longest continuous time in space by a woman.[7] She returned from space on February 6, 2020.[8]

Koch was selected as part of the crew for the Artemis II flight, which intends to circle the Moon in 2024 which, if successful, will make her the first woman to travel beyond low Earth orbit.

Koch was included in Time's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.[9]

Early life and education[edit]

Christina was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan,[10] and raised in Jacksonville, North Carolina,[11] by parents Barbara Johnsen of Frederick, Maryland, and Ronald Hammock of Jacksonville.[12] Koch's childhood dream was to become an astronaut.[13]

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).[14][12] In 2001, she became a graduate of the NASA Academy program at the Goddard Space Flight Center.[12]

Research and training[edit]

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.[12] During this time, she also served as Adjunct Faculty at Montgomery College in Maryland and led a Physics Laboratory course.[12]

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.[12][15] She completed a winter-over season at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station where she experienced minus-111 degree Fahrenheit (-79.4 C) temperatures.[15] 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.[12] She has described her time in the South Pole as challenging mentally and physically:[15] "[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."[16]

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.[12] She contributed to instruments studying radiation particles for NASA missions, including the Juno and Van Allen Probes.[12] The following year, Koch completed tours of Palmer Station in Antarctica and multiple winter seasons at Summit Station in Greenland.[12] 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 (now Utqiaġvik), and then as Station Chief of the American Samoa Observatory.[12]

Astronaut career[edit]

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.[17]

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.[12]

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.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20][21][22] Koch and Meir followed the historic walk with two more female team walks in January 2020.[8]

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.[23] In addition, for a first-time astronaut, this NASA mission change has never happened before.[24][25][26] Koch's extended mission is being used to study the physical, biological, and mental effects of long-term space travel on women.[27]

Koch was selected as one of the crew members for NASA's upcoming Artemis program, slated for 2024.[28] On April 3, 2023 she was announced as a mission specialist in the Artemis II crew, which plans to fly around the Moon in 2024, traveling 6,400 miles beyond the Moon's far side before returning to Earth.[29][30] She will be joined by NASA astronauts Gregory R. Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen.[29]

Personal life[edit]

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.[12]

Awards and honors[edit]

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.[12]

In December 2020, Koch was awarded an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree from her alma mater, North Carolina State University.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roberts, Jason (August 3, 2017). "2013 Astronaut Class". NASA. Archived from the original on June 21, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "NASA's Newest Astronauts Complete Training". NASA. July 9, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Christina Hammock Koch NASA Astronaut". NASA. November 27, 2015. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  4. ^ "NASA announces eight new astronauts, half are women". June 17, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  5. ^ Kowal, Mary Robinette (February 6, 2020). "Christina Koch Lands on Earth, and Crosses a Threshold for Women in Space - The astronaut completed three all-female spacewalks and set a record for time in space, but you should remember her for much more". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  6. ^ "Space walking". DK Smithsonian Space: a visual encyclopedia (2nd ed.). New York: DK Publishing. 2020. p. 97. ISBN 978-1465494252.
  7. ^ Harwood, William (December 30, 2019). "Koch marks record stay in space for female astronaut". Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Rincon, Paul (February 6, 2020). "New female space record for Nasa astronaut". BBC News. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  9. ^ "Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir: The 100 Most Influential People of 2020". Time. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  10. ^ Raven, Benjamin (March 8, 2019). "NASA's first all-women spacewalk features Michigan native". Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  11. ^ Rupinta, Amber (February 26, 2019). "NASA astronaut, NC State grad Christina Koch ready for first space flight in March". ABC11 Raleigh-Durham. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Whiting, Melanie (November 27, 2015). "Christina Hammock Koch NASA Astronaut". NASA. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
  13. ^ Staff, Daily News. "Jacksonville astronaut will 'carry the dreams of everyone' to space". The Daily News. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  14. ^ "Alumna Astronaut Prepares to Launch to the ISS • Electrical and Computer Engineering". NC State University | Electrical and Computer Engineering. February 20, 2019. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  15. ^ a b c Herman, Danielle (July 30, 2018). "N.C. State grad joins space race". Business North Carolina. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  16. ^ "Antarctica Provides ICE to Study Behavior Effects in Astronauts – SpaceRef". SpaceRef. September 13, 2016. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  17. ^ "Five Facts about Space Camp Astronaut Alumna Christina Koch!". Space Camp. U.S. Space and Rocket Center. March 8, 2019. Archived from the original on April 19, 2019. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  18. ^ Gebhardt, Chris (March 14, 2019). "Soyuz MS-12 docks with the Space Station".
  19. ^ Berger, Eric (March 26, 2019). "It's unfortunate NASA canceled the all-female EVA, but it's the right decision". Ars Technica.
  20. ^ "NASA Astronauts Spacewalk Outside the International Space Station on Oct. 18". NASA. October 18, 2019. Retrieved October 18, 2019 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ "Voor het eerst maakt vrouwelijk duo ruimtewandeling bij ISS" [For the first time a female duo is taking a space walk at ISS]. (in Dutch). October 18, 2019.
  22. ^ Garcia, Mark (October 18, 2019). "NASA TV is Live Now Broadcasting First All-Woman Spacewalk". NASA Blogs. NASA. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  23. ^ Northon, Karen (February 6, 2020). "Record-Setting NASA Astronaut, Crewmates Return from Space Station". NASA. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  24. ^ Northon, Karen (April 16, 2019). "NASA Announces First Flight, Record-Setting Mission". NASA. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  25. ^ "NASA astronaut to set record for longest spaceflight by a woman". Agence France Press. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  26. ^ Dunn, Marcia (April 17, 2019). "US astronaut to spend 11 months in space, set female record". AP NEWS. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  27. ^ Roulette, Joey (February 6, 2020). "NASA astronaut Christina Koch returns to Earth after record mission". Reuters. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  28. ^ "NASA: The Artemis Team". NASA. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  29. ^ a b Maidenberg, Micah (April 3, 2023). "NASA Names Artemis II Crew for Mission to Fly by Moon in 2024". Retrieved April 3, 2023.
  30. ^ Watch Live: NASA announces astronauts for Artemis II moon flyby mission. Youtube. CBS News. April 3, 2023. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
  31. ^ Peeler, Tim (November 19, 2020). "Launching the Next Generation". News. North Carolina State University. Archived from the original on January 16, 2023. Retrieved April 4, 2023.

External links[edit]