Wake County

NASA astronaut Christina Koch thanks Raleigh city leaders from outer space

When the city of Raleigh wants to celebrate someone, the mayor declares a special day in their honor.

Normally the person shows up in person for the reading of their proclamation at a City Council meeting.

That wasn’t going to work for Christina Koch on Wednesday afternoon. The NASA flight engineer was more than 100 miles away, floating in space.

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane proclaimed Nov. 6 as “Astronaut Christina Koch Day” and shared a video of Koch from the International Space Station, where she has been living since March.

Bobbing up and down and with her dark, curly hair floating up, Koch thanked McFarlane, the council and the city for the honor.

“Thank you all for the recognition that I hope will foster inspiration for students throughout the Raleigh area and beyond,” Koch said.

Koch, an NC State University graduate, shared her experiences living in Raleigh, at N.C. State and how they shaped her life and career.

In addition to her research, she made history as part of the world’s first female team floating out of the space station to fix a broken part of the power network.

And she’s set to make history as the first woman astronaut to stay in orbit for more than 300 days.

“She is the first North Carolina State University graduate to go into space, an amazing role model for all children who dream of adventure, we congratulate her on her achievements and we are proud to have her as an ambassador for our city,” the proclamation said.

Laura Bottomley, director of The Engineering Place and Women in Engineering at NC State, said it was wonderful for the city to recognize Koch.

“I think that seeing role models, such as Christina, engaged in exciting, adventurous and really STEM focused activities can really capture the human spirit and encourage young people to aspire to (literal) heights,” Bottomley said.

“Because Christina is a woman, a whole group of kids in Raleigh can now see themselves as engineers and scientists,” she continued. “Even if they set out to follow in Christina’s footsteps, but do not become an astronaut, it will lead them to discover the wonder and power in the many STEM fields and pave a pathway to the ways they can make their own differences in the world.”

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Anna Johnson covers Raleigh and Wake County for the News & Observer. She has previously covered city government, crime and business for newspapers across North Carolina and received many North Carolina Press Association awards, including first place for investigative reporting. She is a 2012 alumna of Elon University.
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