The Big Picture:
On Saturday, astronaut Christina Koch broke astronaut Peggy Whitson's record for the longest time spent in space by a woman. Whitson's record was 289 days, 5 hours, and 1 minute. Koch is aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and will remain there for another 6 weeks.
Who is Christina Koch?
Koch is a NASA flight engineer who made history in October when she and fellow astronaut Jessica Meir conducted the first all-female spacewalk outside the ISS. She was supposed to do an all-female spacewalk alongside astronaut Anne McClain back in April, but in an embarrassing snafu for NASA there weren't enough spacesuits sized to fit women aboard.
She holds bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and physics from North Carolina State University. Prior to becoming an astronaut, she served as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration station chief of America Samoa.
Who is Peggy Whitson?
Whitson is a retired NASA astronaut who was also the first woman to serve as ISS Commander as well as the first woman (and first non-pilot) to serve as Chief Astronaut of the Astronaut Office. Before Koch broke her record, Whitson had broken European Space Agency astronaut/Italian Air Force pilot/engineer Samantha Cristoforetti's record for the longest time spent in space by a woman.
She holds bachelor's degrees in chemistry and biology from Iowa Wesleyan College and a doctorate in biochemistry from Rice University, where she also taught.
We salute these women!