To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Astronaut Christina Koch will be NASA's first ever woman to fly to the moon

Astronaut Christina Koch will be NASA's first ever woman to fly to the moon

A woman and a man of colour will fly to the moon with NASA for the first time in history

Astronaut Christina Koch will soon go where no woman has gone before when she joins NASA's next mission to the Moon.

This is a giant leap for her - and a cosmic leap for womankind.

Ever since humans first set foot on the Moon in 1969, space, much like life on Earth, has been dominated by men, with only 12 percent of astronauts made up of women.

But for little girls who dream of wearing spacesuits instead of the princess dresses they're often sold, Koch's achievement shows again that exploration beyond our planet is not exclusive to one gender.

Koch set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman with a total of 328 days in space.

Michigan-born Koch, who grew up in North Carolina, always wanted to become an astronaut.

After graduating from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham in 1997, she enrolled at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, earning two Bachelor of Science degrees and a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering.

In 2001, she became a graduate of the NASA Academy program at the Goddard Space Flight Center and fast forward to 2013, Koch was selected by NASA as part of Astronaut Group 21.

Soon after completing her training in 2015, she was available for future missions.

2019 was the start of a record-breaking mission for Koch, who was launched to the International Space Station on Soyuz MS-12, alongside Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague.

In 2020, she returned to Earth with the accolade of being on the longest spaceflight by a woman.

She wrapped up a 328-day mission on her first flight into space aboard the Soyuz capsule, providing researchers with the opportunity to observe the effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman.

Victor Glover pictured with Koch.

And now, in what will be NASA's first moon crew in 50 years, Koch will be part of the four astronauts assigned to the 2024 lunar mission.

“This is humanity’s crew,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson.

The four astronauts will be the first to fly NASA’s Orion capsule, launching from from Kennedy Space Centre next year.

The mission’s commander, Reid Wiseman, will be joined by naval aviator Victor Glover, the first Black astronaut on a NASA space mission; Koch, and Canada’s Jeremy Hansen, a former fighter pilot and the crew’s lone space rookie.

Notably, the quartet will not actually step foot on the moon, but they will fly by the natural satellite and test out many of the systems necessary for future missions before coming back to Earth.

NASA said the reason why they are going all that way is for 'scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new generation of explorers'.

Most importantly, they want to learn all they can about the moon 'to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars'.

"For me, the most important thing is that we are coming together to overcome an obstacle that is greater than anything we might - could imagine," Koch told NPR.

"And that means taking contributions, literally, from anyone who has a dream and is willing to work hard to achieve that dream for all of humanity.

"We're going to be answering the biggest philosophical questions of our time, if we can get to Mars, talking about whether or not we're alone in the universe, putting perspective on our place in the universe.

"And the fact that we are willing to devote ourselves to answering those questions collectively is the important part about this Artemis mission."

In her spare time, she enjoys surfing, rock climbing, community service, running, yoga, backpacking, photography and travel.

Speaking about what the mission means for women, she told Harper's Bazaar: "Well, as you know, the last moon missions were over five decades ago, and it was a very different time.

"But I'm happy to say that long ago, NASA made the decision that it was important to represent all of humanity when we answer humanity's call to explore.

"And now, the astronaut core looks like all of humanity.

"So it was pretty clear that no matter what kind of crew you picked for this mission, it was gonna have that characteristic—and I'm happy to say that it does.

"We understand that the best way to be successful is to make sure that everyone with a contribution and a talent is part of the team."

Tyla's Female First series celebrates women who were the first to achieve something special in their field.

Featured Image Credit: NASA

Topics: Space, Nasa, News, Science