NASA astronaut Frank Rubio has set a new record for the longest single spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut after spending more than a year aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Rubio, along with his crewmates Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, made a parachute-assisted landing in Kazakhstan after spending 317 days in low Earth orbit. Rubio’s extended mission was a result of the spacecraft that was supposed to return them to Earth being deemed unfit due to a coolant leak.
Rubio’s time in space is not only a milestone but also a valuable contribution to our understanding of long-duration space missions, according to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. During his 371 days on board the ISS, Rubio completed approximately 5,936 orbits of Earth and traveled over 157 million miles. The record-breaking astronaut surpassed the previous record held by Mark Vande Hei of 355 days in space.
In an unexpected twist, Rubio admitted that he would have declined the mission if he had known he would spend that long in space. Despite this, his endurance and dedication have resulted in significant scientific contributions. Rubio’s achievement highlights the sacrifices made by astronauts in their pursuit of discovery and further advances our knowledge of space exploration.