Frank Rubio after exiting the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft.

Frank Rubio sets American space record!

NASA astronaut Francisco Carlos "Frank" Rubio returned to Earth recently on the 27th of September aboard the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft after spending 371 days in space, or 5,936 orbits of the Earth, concluding his first trip to space. Frank Rubio now holds the American record for the longest single spaceflight surpassing the 355 days in space by NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei.

Rubio's over year-long stay in space was caused by a coolant leak on the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft which was deemed too risky to return crew on. The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft returned to Earth uncrewed after the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft was launched in February as a replacement.

Frank Rubio stepping off a NASA plane at Ellington field in Houston, Texas.
Frank Rubio stepping off a NASA plane at Ellington field in Houston, Texas.

The uninterrupted year in space allows researchers to observe the effects of long-duration human spaceflight ahead of NASA's plans for Artemis missions to the Moon and Gateway in near-rectilinear halo orbit. NASA administrator Bill Nelson said the following about Rubio's year in space;

“Frank’s record-breaking time in space is not just a milestone; it’s a major contribution to our understanding of long-duration space missions,” - “Our astronauts make extraordinary sacrifices away from their homes and loved ones to further discovery. NASA is immensely grateful for Frank’s dedicated service to our nation and the invaluable scientific contributions he made on the International Space Station. He embodies the true pioneer spirit that will pave the way for future exploration to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.”

With Rubio's return to Earth Expedition 70 on the International Space Station has begun with crew members Andreas Mogensen (ESA), Jasmin Moghbeli (NASA), Satoshi Furukawa (JAXA), Konstantin Borisov (Roscosmos), Oleg Kononenko (Roscosmos), Nikolai Chub (Roscosmos), and Loral O'Hara (NASA) onboard. Expedition 70 continues almost twenty-three years of continuous human presence in space.