In a major feat for space exploration, astronaut Frank Rubio has set a new benchmark for American astronauts by spending more than 355 days in low Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station (ISS). This achievement eclipses the previous record set by retired NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei.
Having begun his space journey in September 2022, Rubio’s mission was not initially aimed at breaking records. A six-month mission was the original plan when he left Earth aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule alongside cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin. However, unexpected problems arose in December when the spacecraft developed a coolant leak. Deemed unsafe for crew return by Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, the capsule returned to Earth without a crew in March, prompting an extended layover for Rubio and the team. A replacement Soyuz spacecraft, MS-23, was launched in February and docked with the ISS.
Now, with Rubio’s return scheduled for Sept. 27, he’s on pace to clock an impressive 371 days in orbit, becoming the first American to experience more than a year in microgravity.
To celebrate this unique milestone, Rubio had a candid conversation with Mark Vande Hei, broadcast on NASA’s media channel. In it, he expressed deep gratitude for the unwavering support of his family, praising their resilience and strength. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson also took to social media, hailing Rubio’s pioneering journey as “the essence of exploration” material.
However, the global record for the longest space mission remains intact, held by Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov at 437 days.
The collaborative spirit of space exploration was evident when Rubio arrived at the ISS via a Russian spacecraft, reflecting a crew exchange agreement between NASA and Roscosmos in 2022. Regardless of the geopolitical tensions, the partnership underscores the importance of collaborative efforts in space exploration and the invaluable research conducted aboard the ISS.
Throughout his mission, Rubio interacted with multiple astronauts, sharing unique experiences. He reflected, “I’ve been in space with 25 other people … every single one of them has been great crewmates.”
This article is sourced from and written by AI.
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