NASA astronaut, Jacksonville native launches into space Thursday


    Christina Koch (NASA photo)

    That's one small step for woman, one giant leap for womankind.

    Christina Koch, a Jacksonville native, is taking the flight of a lifetime on Thursday when she joins a crew that will travel to the International Space Station.

    The N.C. State graduate will serve with the crew for about six months as a flight engineer.

    Koch will join two other women and make history when they participate in the first-ever spacewalk made up entirely of women, NASA announced.

    Left: Christina Hammock Koch; Right: Anne McClain (NASA)

    Astronauts Anne McClain and Koch will carry out the spacewalk with the assistance of Kristen Facciol, a Canadian Space Agency flight controller, ABC News reports.

    The goal of the mission is to upgrade batteries on the space station, a NASA spokeswoman told "Good Morning America."

    The crew will launch from Kazakhstan on Thursday at 3:14 p.m.

    Koch was born in Michigan but grew up in Jacksonville. She graduated from the N.C. School of Science and Math in Durham before obtaining two bachelor degrees and a master's degree at N.C. State.

    "It's my honor to be an inspiration and I certainly have people in my life when I was in N.C. that inspired me, so I'm hoping to give back," Koch told WTVD during a satellite interview. "Just growing up in eastern N.C. it was a beautiful place and I count that as one of the many reasons I became interested in things like space and exploration. The ocean obviously is a beautiful thing in N.C. that we have as one of our treasures and of course NC State and all the opportunities there."

    Koch sat down for interviews about her upcoming flight. She's currently based at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. Click the above video for a condensed video. Below is the full video.

    You can follow Koch on social media:

    -- Facebook

    -- Twitter

    -- Instagram

    -- NASA bio


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