An astronaut from North Carolina will fly to the International Space Station this week and plans to brave space in the first all-female crew to conduct a spacewalk, according to North Carolina State University.
Christina Hammock Koch, a Michigan native who grew up in Jacksonville, North Carolina, will launch Thursday.
She is a three-time graduate of North Carolina State University with bachelor’s degrees in physics and electrical engineering with a master’s in electrical engineering.
When she takes flight for her six-month stay at the ISS, she plans to bring special reminders of her time at N.C. State and the North Carolina School of Science and Math.
“I’m taking some small emblems of both up with me,” she told the university. “I feel that they both prepared me so well that this is a little way for me to say ‘Thank you’ for all that preparation and for the people who worked there that cared about my education and my development to get me where I am.”
After almost six years of training, NASA selected Koch as one of eight astronauts in the Class of 2013.
During her time at the space station, she will conduct experiments and perform general maintenance work.
And, on March 29, she will go out into space as part of the first all-female crew to conduct a spacewalk in the ISS’s 21-year history.
Koch is set to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan at 3:14 p.m. Thursday.
North Carolina State students and faculty plan to watch the event on big screens at the university’s Riddick Hall Hearth.
Her family plans to join her in Kazakhstan for the big day.
“I’m looking forward to knowing that my friends and family are there and that they know I am carrying their dreams with me,” Koch told N.C. State. “They all helped support me and get me where I am.”