Record-breaking US astronaut returns to Earth   

Record-breaking US astronaut returns to Earth   

Record-breaking US astronaut returns to Earth

NASA's Christina Koch returned to Earth safely Feb. 6 having shattered the spaceflight record for female astronauts after almost a year aboard the International Space Station.

Koch touched down at 0912 GMT on the Kazakh steppe after 328 days in space along with Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia's Roscosmos space agency, said the crew had returned safely.

"All is well on board, the crew are feeling well," Rogozin wrote on Twitter.

Koch, a 41-year-old Michigan-born engineer, beat the previous record for a single spaceflight by a woman, 289 days, held by NASA veteran Peggy Whitson, on Dec. 28, 2019.

She had already made history by that point as one half of the first-ever all-woman spacewalk along with NASA counterpart Jessica Meir in October.

Koch told NBC on Tuesday that she would "miss microgravity" as she spoke to journalists ahead of the three-and-a-half hour journey back to Earth.

"It's really fun to be in a place where you can just bounce around between the ceiling and the floor whenever you want," she said, smiling as she twisted her body around the ISS.

Koch called three-time flyer Whitson "a heroine of mine" and a "mentor" in the space program after she surpassed the 59-year-old's record.        

She also spoke of her desire to "inspire the next generation of explorers."

Koch's return comes after an advert produced by the skincare brand Olay ran during an intermission in the American football Super Bowl with a call to "make space for women." 

The advert featured NASA astronaut Nicole Stott and saw the company promise to donate up to $500,000 to the non-profit Women Who Code, which works with young women seeking careers in tech and scientific fields.