NASA Astronaut Frank Rubio Breaks Spaceflight Record
Astronaut Frank Rubio shatters record for longest time in space after being stranded following a space capsule mishap.
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio has returned home after being stranded in space due to a space capsule mishap. Rubio has now broken the American record for the longest time spent in space, spending a remarkable 371 days onboard the International Space Station (ISS). During his time in space, Rubio traveled an astonishing 157 million miles, completing 5,936 orbits around Earth. To put this into perspective, NASA states that this distance is roughly equivalent to 328 trips to the Moon and back.
Rubio's extended stay in space was not part of his original plan. His mission was initially intended to last for six months. However, in December of last year, just three months after reaching space, the Russian Soyuz MS-22 capsule that carried Rubio and two Russian cosmonauts experienced a massive coolant leak. Cameras onboard the ISS captured the unexpected sight of the liquid spraying out into space, raising concerns for the safety of the crew upon reentry.
Typically, astronauts return to Earth in the same capsule they launched in. However, Rubio and his fellow MS-22 passengers, Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, watched as other crews arrived and departed the ISS while they remained stranded. Their rescue capsule, a Soyuz MS-23, finally arrived in February 2023.
On Wednesday at 3:54 a.m. Eastern Time, Rubio and his fellow crew members departed the ISS in the Soyuz MS-23 capsule. The capsule performed two burns to create a safety cushion distance before they prepared to reenter Earth's atmosphere. At 7:17 a.m. Eastern Time, touchdown was confirmed southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson expressed his appreciation for Rubio's record-breaking time in space, stating that it not only marks a milestone but also contributes significantly to our understanding of long-duration space missions. Nelson emphasized the sacrifices astronauts make to further discovery and expressed gratitude for Rubio's dedicated service and scientific contributions on the ISS.
With the safe return of Rubio and his fellow crew members, the saga of the coolant leak finally comes to an end. They can now reunite with their loved ones, marking the conclusion of their extraordinary journey in space.