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NASA astronaut Christina Koch aims for record-setting 328 days on ISS

Koch will get close to a monumental mark set by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.

Christina Koch conducts research on the ISS.

NASA

Astronaut Christina Koch is in for a whole lot of living in microgravity. She's on her first mission to space and it's about to get more epic.

On Wednesday, NASA extended Koch's stay on the International Space Station until February 2020. She will log 328 days in space, setting the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman.

The record currently belongs to NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who spent 288 days on the station in 2016 and 2017. Koch will come in just short of the longest single spaceflight by a NASA astronaut, an honor that belongs to Scott Kelly and his 340 days in 2015 and 2016. 

Koch took to Twitter to say, "One month down. Ten to go."

NASA astronaut Nick Hague is also aboard the ISS right now. He called Koch an amazing crewmate and team member and said, "I couldn't think of a better person to spend a year on the Space Station."

NASA uses extended ISS missions as an opportunity to study the effects of long-duration human spaceflight as it looks ahead to missions to the moon and Mars. "A significant degree of variability in human response to spaceflight and it's important to determine the acceptable degree of change for both men and women," the agency said.

Koch was originally scheduled to perform a spacewalk with astronaut Anne McClain in late March, which would have made them the first all-female team of spacewalkers. An issue with spacesuit sizing forced NASA to reshuffle the assignments. Koch and Hague performed the spacewalk instead.

Koch has a background as an electrical engineer for NASA, where she worked on scientific instruments for several NASA missions. She is part of the 2013 astronaut class. She reacted to the news of her mission extension in a NASA interview: "It feels awesome," Koch said. "It's truly a dream come true."