Nasa astronaut Frank Rubio has achieved a remarkable milestone, setting a new record for the longest duration spent in microgravity by an American astronaut.
He made history by becoming the first US astronaut to spend an entire calendar year in orbit, surpassing the previous record of 355 days set by Mark Vande Hei in 2022.
Rubio’s journey to this record-breaking accomplishment also marked his inaugural space mission since his selection into the Nasa astronaut corps in 2017. Additionally, he holds the distinction of being the first astronaut of Salvadoran descent to travel to low-Earth orbit, a significant achievement for both Nasa and his homeland.
In a recent interview with CNN, Rubio candidly shared that had he known his stay on the space station would be twice as long as originally planned, he might have reconsidered the assignment due to important family matters. He expressed gratitude for the opportunity but acknowledged the personal sacrifices made during his extended mission.
Rubio, a father of four, returned to Houston after his journey home from the Soyuz spacecraft’s landing site near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. His mission covered an astounding distance of 157.4 million miles (253.3 million kilometers) and included an impressive 5,963 orbits around Earth. This mission was conducted on a Russian spacecraft as part of a ride-sharing agreement between the US and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.
It’s worth noting that Rubio’s record-breaking achievement highlights the collaborative efforts in space exploration, transcending geopolitical boundaries. While his accomplishment as the longest-serving American astronaut is noteworthy, the all-time record for the longest stay in space remains held by the late Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, who spent an impressive 437 consecutive days aboard the Mir space station between January 1994 and March 1995.