NASA astronaut Frank Rubio has returned home after spending over a year on the International Space Station (ISS), setting a new record for the longest single spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut. Rubio, along with his crewmates Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, made a parachute-assisted landing in Kazakhstan. They had spent 317 days in low Earth orbit before departing from the ISS. Rubio’s extended mission came about after a coolant leak on the spacecraft that was supposed to transport them back to Earth.
Rubio’s record-breaking time in space is considered a significant contribution to our understanding of long-duration space missions. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson praised Rubio’s dedication and sacrifice, noting that astronauts like Rubio make extraordinary sacrifices to further discovery. Rubio’s mission lasted a total of 371 days, during which he completed around 5,936 orbits of Earth and traveled over 157 million miles. He surpassed the previous record for the longest spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut, set by Mark Vande Hei in 2022.
Prior to his return, Rubio admitted that he would have declined the mission if he had known he would end up staying in space for so long. Despite this, his mission has been hailed as a milestone in space exploration and will contribute valuable insights for future long-duration missions. Rubio’s achievements further highlight the dedication and sacrifices made by astronauts to advance our understanding of the universe.