Record-setting NASA astronaut Christina Koch has revealed she was most excited about hitting the beach with her husband and puppy – and relieving her cravings for tortilla chips and salsa – after nearly 11 months in space.
Ms Koch told reporters her neck hurt for about a day but, apart from that and some balance problems, she was doing fine and readjusting well to gravity.
“I felt like a two-week-old who was actually working hard to hold up my own head,” she said.
Ms Koch returned from the International Space Station earlier this month after 328 days – the longest space mission by a woman.
She flew to the space station in March last year, taking part in the first all-female spacewalk in October.
The 41-year-old spent more than 42 hours and 15 minutes outside the space station, including five other spacewalks.
It was a rather different experience from that of Scott Kelly, who holds NASA’s record for endurance in space – 340 days.
Mr Kelly had sore feet and burning skin after his mission ended four years ago.
Ms Koch – and electrical engineer who also has a degree in physics – said she counted herself lucky to have not suffered the same ailments.
She returned home to Galveston in Texas to find a kitchen full of chips and salsa – foods she had craved while she was away.
She and her husband also made a point of going to the beach with their dog, a rescue puppy named LBD (Little Brown Dog), three days after she landed in Kazakhstan.
“I’m not sure who was more excited to see the other,” she said.
Ahead of her return to Earth, she had told reporters: “Oh, how I miss the wind on my face, the feeling of raindrops, sand on my feet and the sound of the surf crashing on the Galveston beach.
“We take daily sensory inputs for granted until they are absent… I cannot wait to feel and hear Earth again.”
In a different interview quoted in the Smithsonian Magazine, she said her work had been a symbol of “exploration by all that dare to dream and work hard to achieve that dream”.
She added: “Not only that, it’s a tribute to those who paved the way for us to be where we are, and we hope an inspiration to all future explorers.”
Three astronauts remain at the space station, including the other half of the all-female spacewalk, Jessica Meir.