GR native’s journey from farm to spacewalk

Kent County

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — As Christina Koch became just the 14th woman to perform a spacewalk at the International Space Station Friday, the world was watching.

Perhaps few were watching more closely than Koch’s aunt, Loretta Homrich, who lives northwest of Grand Rapids.

“I carry this with me room to room,” Homrich said, showing 24 Hour News 8 a smartphone connected to NASA’s live feed. “I have (it on) my TV, my computer, my iPad.”

Koch braved the vacuum of space to perform some mechanical work on the ISS.

She was born in Grand Rapids. While she moved to North Carolina when she was young, she would visit a few weeks each summer. She spent time as a teenager working on her family’s farm in Sparta and at their fruit market in Comstock Park: Homrich’s Under the Pines.

“She saw grandpa (work) from sun up to sun down. And he never quit and she was right along with him,” Homrich recalled. “(She was) a very hard worker. And never gave up. If she couldn’t do it, she found a way to do it.”

Now about 25 years later, Koch has gone from Sparta to outer space. Her crew launched two weeks ago to spend the next six and a half months on their mission at the ISS.

Her family, 200 miles below, said it’s the hard work she showed as a teenager that carried her to the stars.

For them, proud doesn’t even describe it.

“Who would’ve thought she’d have been out in space as an astronaut. She went from working on a farm, and now she’s in space. It’s just absolutely incredible,” Homrich said.

Koch has been able to video call with family back home and Homrich has been in touch via email.

The family also keeps track of when the ISS passes over West Michigan and make sure to wave each time.

The spacewalk was supposed to be historic — the first all-women spacewalk — but problems with the spacesuits forced NASA to swap out one of the women for a man.

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