NC State, NCSSM grad Christina Koch takes part in space walk

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina State and North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) alum Christina Koch took part in a spacewalk today, just hours before the ISS will be clearly visible to people in North Carolina.

Koch, who graduated from NCSSM in 1997, is set to make history during her mission, including longest-mission for a female astronaut and being part of the first all-female spacewalk.

"The historical significance of that is it's really a marker that reminds us that women haven't always been included in the space program, that they're really still in the minority," explained Amy Sheck, the Dean of Science at NCSSM.

A few weeks ago, students interviewed Koch about her experience and background.

"When she showed up in the space station wearing her NCSSM alum shirt, everybody instantly connected with her. So she's just this incredibly tangible role model," said Sheck.

Near the entrance of the school is a large picture of Koch, with a write-up of her career. She also gifted the school with a signed picture, thanking them "for launching my curiosity and my career."

"We have some students who want to be astronauts, and now they can literally see a pathway to do that," Sheck said.

This weekend is Alumni Weekend for NCSSM, and while Koch won't be in attendance, she will be passing over the event Friday night. Beginning at 7:10 p.m., the ISS will be visible for six minutes from the ground.

"We're all so incredibly proud of her. She is really our most famous alum. And her achievement in physics and electrical engineering, and just being an adventurer going into space the way she has all makes us all feel very proud that we've been able to launch her on that career and support her," said Sheck.

Koch is not the only astronaut with North Carolina ties taking part in the mission; Dr. Andrew Morgan was formerly an attending physician at Fort Bragg, prior to embarking onto a career with NASA.

To learn more about Friday night's viewing, click here.
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