GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — The West Michigan native who set two records in space said she has adjusted well to being back on earth.
On Wednesday afternoon, NASA held a press conference with Koch from the Johnson Space Center so Koch. She discussed readjusting to gravity, reuniting with her husband and dog and reflecting on becoming a role model for the next generation of astronauts.
“I do notice little discovery muscles I haven’t felt in a while and things like that,” Koch said in response to how she’s feeling. “I haven’t really had the sore feet, but I did notice for about a day my neck was sore and I felt like a 2-week-old, but actually was working hard to hold up my own head, but I’ve been very fortunate. It’s been a pretty easy transition back and I have great teams that make sure that that happens.”
Koch returned home to Galveston, Texas, to find a kitchen full of chips and salsa, something she’d craved in orbit, along with the Gulf of Mexico. She hit the beach with her husband, Bob, and their dog, a rescue pup named LBD for Little Brown Dog, just three days after her landing in Kazakhstan.
LBD was excited to see her, and vice versa.
“I’m not sure who was more excited to see the other,” Koch said.
Their reunion was recorded. “It’s just a symbol of coming back to the people and places that you love, to see your favorite animal,” she said.
Koch also reflected on how spending her early life in West Michigan shaped her into the astronaut she is today.
“I found that the spirit of hard work and taking care of each other, that was given to me when I was young,” she said, adding that working with her family on their Sparta-area farm taught her grit and provided “moral lighthouses” for her continued growth.
She was born in Grand Rapids and moved to North Carolina when she was young, though she returned often during the summers to see family.
Now 41, she is an electrical engineer who also has a physics degree.
Three astronauts remain at the International Space Station, including the other half of the all-female spacewalk, NASA’s Jessica Meir.