NASA Astronaut Frank Rubio set a new record Monday for the longest spaceflight mission by a United States astronaut.
In recognition of Rubio’s historic achievement, NASA tweeted, “Astronaut Frank Rubio has just set a new U.S. spaceflight record, eclipsing the previous record of 355 consecutive days aboard the @Space_Station. This is now the single longest mission for any of our @NASA_Astronauts. He is set to return to Earth on Sept. 27, when he will have spent 371 days in space.”
According to Axios, Rubio, who is the first Salvadoran to visit space, first launched to the International Space Station in September of 2022 alongside Russian cosmonauts Dmitri Petelin and Sergey Prokopyev.
“It’s an honor to be able to be considered one of the people that’s going to have spent a year in space,” Rubio said in a recent interview on ABC’s Good Morning America. “And for sure, this record will soon be broken again.”
During his appearance on Good Morning America, Rubio explained that the new record for the longest U.S. spaceflight mission is “really significant” because “it teaches us that the human body can endure, it can adapt and — as we prepare to push back to the moon and then from there, onward onto hopefully Mars and further on into the solar system.”
Rubio stressed the importance of learning how the human body can adapt in space and how to “optimize that process” so that astronauts can improve their performance as they continue to explore regions of space further away from the Earth.
According to Space.com, Rubio was not originally scheduled to remain in space for so long; however, an issue with a Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft caused his spaceflight to be extended an additional six months, allowing him to serve on Expedition 67, 68, and 69 crews.
“Frank thought when he flew to space, he would be here for six months. And partway through his mission, he found out that it was extended to a year,” NASA astronaut Warren Hoburg said during a recent press conference. “His leadership up here has been incredible. He’s been amazing to work with, and Frank is just making a huge sacrifice being away from his family for so long.”