Michigan-born astronaut lands safely in Kazakhstan

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Michigan native who spent 11 months in space returned home to Earth early Thursday.

Christina Koch’s stay at the International Space Station was the second longest trip to space ever, NASA says. She clocked 328 days in space; 5,248 orbits around Earth (139 million miles); and 42 hours, 15 minutes outside the ISS during six spacewalks, including an historic one that was made up of all women.

Koch was born in Grand Rapids. Though she moved to North Carolina when she was young, she would often return to West Michigan to work at her family’s farm and fruit market.

“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,” her aunt, Loretta Homrich, told News 8 shortly after Koch’s mission began in March.

Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency returned to Earth with Koch, all three landing safely in Kazakhstan shortly after 4 a.m. ET.

Koch previously told the Associated Press she was looking forward to having some chips and salsa once back home. Astronauts aren’t allowed to have chips on the ISS because the crumbs could damage equipment.

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