Astronaut Jessica Meir returns to whole new world after 200 days in space

Meir is the fourth woman of Jewish heritage and the 15th woman overall to be part of a space mission.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

The state of affairs on planet Earth is a lot different from when NASA astronaut Jessica Meir left eight months ago.

“There were only three people on the space station and it was difficult for us to understand: Wow, of the 7.5 billion humans on Earth right now, we are really the only three people that aren’t affected by this,” Meir told CBS News, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We came back to all these masked faces,” Meir said. “The people pulling us out of the capsule, they were already wearing masks, so that was really the first human that we saw.”

Despite her time in space where social distancing is 250 miles, Meir said she finds the six-feet social distancing regulation of corona much more taxing.

“From a distance, we kind of could do a virtual hug,” Meir said. “It’s quite difficult for me. I’m a hugger, and now I’ve been up there for seven months and I can’t even hug people, so it’s pretty difficult.”

Although normally astronauts returning back from space are mandated to go into quarantine for a week, since long-duration space missions compromise the immune system, NASA has enforced a prolonged quarantine because of coronavirus.

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On Sep. 25, 2019, Meir lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the ISS together with Russian astronaut Oleg Skripochka and Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, the first Arab to ever set foot on the International Space Station.

Meir is the fourth woman of Jewish heritage and the 15th woman overall to be part of a space mission.

Meir’s Jewish roots come from her late father who was an Iraqi-Israeli Jew. He emigrated with his family to pre-state Israel as a child and fought in the War of Independence. He became a doctor and moved to Sweden, where he met Meir’s mother. The family eventually moved to Maine because of her father’s work.