Antares rocket launches Cygnus cargo ship on marathon mission for NASA

In this NASA handout the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket with Cygnus resupply spacecraft onboard is seen just after sunrise on Pad-0A

US rocket launched to bring NASA cargo to ISS - Xinhua |

Her mission is planned to be just shy of the longest single spaceflight by a NASA astronaut - 340 days, set by former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly during his one-year mission in 2015-16.

Christina H. Koch was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2013. "I have known that this was a possibility for a long time and it's truly a dream come true". "Privileged to contribute my best every single day of it".

On July 20, Morgan, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov are scheduled to launch to the space station and join Expedition 60, returning the orbiting laboratory's crew complement to six. That approaches but does not quite break Scott Kelly's 340 day USA record.

Another two new experiments will scrutinize aging-like changes in many astronauts on the space station, including changes to their arteries, and examine effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune memory.

"Christina's extended mission will provide additional data for NASA's Human Research Program and continue to support future missions to the Moon and Mars", said Jennifer Fogarty, chief scientist of the Human Research Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, US. In the spirit of Chaffee's role to advance the U.S. space program, we're also proud to demonstrate a number of innovative capabilities for our Cygnus spacecraft during this mission, including our ability to load cargo close to launch and our planned long duration flight which will take place when Cygnus leaves the International Space Station. Lt. Commander Chaffee, who was selected by NASA to fly on the first manned mission of the Apollo program in 1967, but who died in a tragic accident with fellow crewmates, Virgil "Gus" Grissom and Ed White II after a fire occurred in the space capsule during a simulation of the Apollo 1 launch. Koch arrived at the ISS on March 14 and will remain in orbit until February 2020.

A US rocket was launched on Wednesday from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore, carrying cargo with the space agency's resupply mission for the International Space Station (ISS). Koch is now part of NASA's Expedition 59 and 60 crews, which launched to the ISS last month.

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