In an extraordinary feat of human endurance and technological prowess, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio has just shattered the record for the longest spaceflight by a NASA astronaut. The Salvadoran-American astronaut, who made history last year as the first of his heritage to journey into space, has now added another significant milestone to his name. Rubio hit the record-breaking mark at precisely 1:39 p.m. ET on Monday, September 11, surpassing the previous record of 355 days, 3 hours, and 45 minutes set by Mark Vande Hei last year.
Embarking on his first-ever space mission aboard a Soyuz spacecraft last September, Rubio was initially scheduled for a standard six-month stint aboard the International Space Station (ISS), alongside Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin. However, fate had other plans. An unexpected leak in his Soyuz capsule in December prompted Russian space officials to deem it unsafe for the crew’s return, leading to an extension of the mission by another six months.
Astronaut Frank Rubio Sets a New NASA Record
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio has elevated the bar for space endurance. In September last year, Rubio launched into space, making history as the first Salvadoran-American astronaut to head into orbit. Today, he has accomplished another remarkable feat by setting the record for the longest stay in space by a NASA astronaut.
Record-breaking Stay in Space
At 1:39 p.m. ET on Monday, September 11, Rubio surpassed the previous record of 355 days, 3 hours, and 45 minutes, held by NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei. This milestone was achieved during Rubio’s maiden space mission. Remarkably, his sojourn in space is set to continue for a few more weeks, taking his total space residency to 371 days. NASA celebrated this accomplishment by announcing Rubio’s spaceflight record on X, formerly known as Twitter.
An Unexpected Turn of Events
Initially, Rubio’s mission was not aimed at breaking space duration records. Like most long-duration missions, Rubio was scheduled to stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for six months, along with his crewmates, Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin. However, an unexpected twist occurred when a leak was discovered in their Soyuz capsule in December, making it unsafe for the trio’s return. This predicament led Russian space officials to send a replacement Soyuz spacecraft in late February, consequently extending Rubio’s mission by an additional six months.
A Symbol of Dedication and Exploration
Rubio’s extraordinary journey in space was lauded by NASA chief, Bill Nelson, in a message posted on X. Nelson stated, "Frank Rubio’s journey in space embodies the essence of exploration. As he breaks records as the longest-serving NASA U.S. astronaut in space, he also paves the way for future generations of astronauts." He added, "Your dedication is truly out of this world, Frank!"
However, while Rubio now holds the record for the longest continuous space mission by a NASA astronaut, the overall record for the longest space stay remains with Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov. Polyakov lived aboard the Mir space station for 437 days and 18 hours in the mid-1990s.
Frank Rubio’s story is a testament to the unforeseen challenges and victories that can occur during space missions. His journey demonstrates the flexibility, resilience, and dedication required by astronauts and the teams that support them. As we continue to push the boundaries of human spaceflight, Rubio’s record-setting stay serves as a reminder of the incredible feats that can be achieved and the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.