Jacksonville native part of the first all-female spacewalkOctober 15, 2019
A native of Jacksonville is about to step foot into space with the upcoming NASA all-female spacewalk.
In the coming week, Christina Hammock Koch and Jessica Meir will work on replacing the nickel-hydrogen batteries on the Port-6 truss structure at the International Space Station with more powerful lithium ones. Originally scheduled for Monday, the walk will now take place on October 17th/18th and will be covered live at 6:30 a.m. at nasa.gov/nasalive.
This walk would have originally happened in March with Koch and Anne McCain but had to be postponed on account of spacesuit fittings.
Koch is a student of the Infant of Prague Catholic School and White Oak High before moving to North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. She is fondly remembered by her cheerleading coach, Tanya Larose, who says that she is a great role model in a male-dominated profession.
Koch earned her master’s degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University and began her career as an electrical engineer focusing on space science instrument design at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. She worked as a research associate with the US Antarctic Program and spent a winter at the South Pole before returning to space instrument design at the Johns Hopkins University. She has also contributed to the Juno probe on Jupiter.
NASA says that Koch worked at a remote scientific research station as a field engineer in the Arctic. She was a station chief with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in American Samoa as well.
She is expected to remain in space for 11 months and will break the record for the longest space flight by a female. Her longer duration in space will help NASA understand what happens to the human body in space. This week, she will be embarking on her fourth spacewalk.
Larose live-streamed Koch along with some of her former teachers on her first spacewalk and said she would be doing the same this time as well to inspire female students.