Astronaut Frank Rubio broke the record for the longest mission in orbit carried out by an American, spending more than 355 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
“In some ways, it has been a challenge. But in others, a blessing,” said Rubio, this Wednesday (13), from the ISS during a conversation with NASA broadcast live.
After breaking the record last Monday (11), he stated that he now hopes to reach 365 days. “I think it will be a really good milestone for our nation.”
Rubio, the son of Salvadoran parents, was born in Los Angeles, California, and spent his early years in El Salvador. He is a doctor and helicopter pilot.
The previous US record was set in 2022 by Mark Vande, who spent 355 straight days in space. The world record belongs to Russian cosmonaut Valeri Poliakov, with 437 days.
Rubio’s return to Earth is scheduled for September 27 — he will have spent 371 days in space.
When Rubio traveled to the ISS last year on a Russian Soyuz rocket with two cosmonauts, the plan was for him to stay six months, which is the typical duration of missions to the orbital station.
As per standard procedure, this rocket remained docked to the ISS as an emergency escape craft if necessary and was supposed to bring these three travelers home in December. However, it suffered a leak, probably due to the impact of a small meteorite.
Because of this, the Russian space agency Roscosmos sent the rocket back home and launched another unmanned one.
Rubio and his two companions carried out the mission of the crew that was originally supposed to travel to the ISS on the second rocket and replace them.
The record for the American with the most days in space remains with former astronaut Peggy Whitson, with 675 days on several missions.