An ESA astronaut broke the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman.
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has returned to Earth after what is now the longest continuous spaceflight by a woman in history. Cristoforetti and her two crewmates, NASA astronaut Terry Virts and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, landed safely in Kazakhstan at 9:44 a.m. EDT on Thursday.
Cristoforetti spent a total of nearly 200 days aboard the International Space Station as a part of Expedition 42 and 43. Her record spaceflight surpassed that of Sunita William’s, who previously held the record for the longest single spaceflight by a female astronaut, spending almost 195 days in space.
The record for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight by a woman was not one Cristoforetti had anticipated breaking when she began her stay aboard the International Space Station in November. However, the failure of a Russian cargo vessel launched in late April postponed the launch of the next space station crew and extended the stay of Cristoforetti and her crewmates aboard the International Space Station by almost a month.
In addition to setting the record for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight by a female astronaut, Cristoforetti’s extended stay in space also set the record for the longest spaceflight by an ESA astronaut, beating out Dutch astronaut André Kuipers’ record by about a week.
However, she’s still far from breaking the record for the most time spent in space by a woman, a record that is currently held by NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, with just over 376 days in space. Whitson has another space mission scheduled for next year.
This was Cristoforetti’s first spaceflight and the first spaceflight by an Italian woman. She also became the first person to enjoy a fresh brewed cup of espresso in space during her stay aboard the International Space Station.